While hiking Mount Washington a few months ago, my girlfriend (at the time) and I got into some intense philosophical discussions during our descent.
In the midst of this mobile symposium, she asked me the most revelatory question I’ve ever been asked…
“Why do you like helping other people?”
Coming from an experienced psychologist, this wasn’t a question asked just for the sake of asking a question. Not at all. It was a friendly yet firm demand for genuine truth. She would not accept a vague, dismissive or even lightly dishonest answer. She wanted me to recognize the core reason as to why I enjoy helping others.
The only answer I could honestly come up with was this: I like helping other people because it makes me feel good.
“For it is in giving that we receive.” – Francis of Assisi
As humans, we’re inherently social beings. We thrive off of connection. And giving is an essential element in cultivating a sense of connectedness with others. That’s why giving feels so good. The research even shows that giving actually makes us happier than receiving.
In his book The Hidden Gifts of Helping Stephen G. Post writes:
“As the saying goes, ‘if you help someone up the hill, you get closer yourself.’ Whether the group is focused on weight loss, smoking cessation, substance abuse, alcoholism, mental illness and recovery, or countless other needs, a defining feature of the group is that people are deeply engaged in helping one another, and are in part motivated by an explicit interest in their own healing.”
This concept of helping yourself by helping others sounds paradoxical, but so do most profound truths. Giving is such an essential part of our nature that it transcends duality.
I feel good when I help others. That’s why I do it.
I help people because, in turn, I help myself.
When I give advice, it’s not only to others, but to myself as well.
I write, not only for other people’s betterment, but for my own improvement and cathartic realization.
Giving is the ultimate win-win situation.
Be generous, because you too will reap the benefits.
– Stevie P!