Sharing Is Caring - For Others And Yourself
Yesterday I talked with another guest in the kitchen of our hostel as she was making herself porridge. I was watching her and thought how amazing a spoon of peanut butter would be with it. So, I offered her my peanut butter and she accepted happily.
So, why do I share this seemingly super random moment, you might think?
Well, I don’t share it to brag about my altruism, nor to describe my everyday travel lifestyle, nor to give peanut butter the attention it deserves (although that might be a hidden reason).
No, I feel like sharing this random moment of my life, because life is exactly about these random moments.
Life is like a movie
As psychotherapist and concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl says, life is like a movie.
In life we experience thousands upon thousands of different single situations, similar to a movie that contains thousands upon thousands of different single pictures. All of these make sense for themselves and carry a meaning. Yet, the meaning of the whole film can’t be seen before the last picture is shown.
However, to understand the whole film we first have to understand all the single pictures.
It’s the same for life. Only in the end, when we are facing death, the final meaning of life might reveal itself. But this can only happen, if until then we have lived every single situation to the best of our knowledge and abilities at that time.
So, to my current best knowledge, I think that inner peace and fulfillment lies in giving. In making giving a habit, a trait, something we look forward to do.
When I shared my peanut butter, I did it out of goodwill. Only for the sake of giving, of sharing. She appreciated it. I think an honest exchange like this is very sacred.
Not forcing it
But - similar to happiness - it doesn’t work if we force it. It doesn’t work if we desperately seek it. If we expect something in return, appreciation, a return of good fortune or something similar, it will corrupt the feeling.
Furthermore, if we go and donate some money to a good cause, sure, it can feel nice. Or if we buy a present for our loved one. Yes, it can feel joyous (As long as we do with the right reasons).
However, I think one of the most beautiful and pure feelings we can get is when the urge for giving arises out of the moment, and we allow ourselves to genuinely express it.
For example, if we see a stranger lifting a heavy bag and we rush there to give him a hand. Or if we see an elderly crossing a street and we walk with her to make her feel secure.
Random acts of kindness
You could call these situations random acts of kindness. Yes, they are random. That’s why they are beautiful. They are not planned. They just arise spontaneously, out of our being. That’s the beauty.
To be the change we want to see in the world, we "only" gotta do that. We gotta walk through this world with open eyes, embracing the opportunities that come along, and let them transform into random acts of kindness.
Everything is in the little things… If we order a coffee, if we talk to the cashier in the supermarket, if someone asks for the way. All these things are gifts! They are gifts that come our way, and we just need to unpack them. Then life becomes magical. Then life feels like a gift itself. Not by gaining more and more for ourselves, accumulating wealth, striving for fame or admiration, or whatever it might be that we seek for ourselves.
No, life becomes a gift when we decide to gift ourselves to the world.
By not expecting anything in return, but sharing our love with the world. That makes us feel whole. And it’s in every situation...
Service leads to fulfillment
I guess like most human beings, I'm not always happy, I feel dissatisfaction and unease at times. Although I have everything I seemingly want. I travel, I surf, I’m at beautiful places, with beautiful people… I guess, I should be over the moon. Still, deep inside there is discontentment.
Well, life shows me time and time again, that giving – instead of taking – is what makes me feel content.
Former monk Jay Shetty puts it like this: “Seeing the purpose of life to be sense-gratification – making ourselves feel good – leads to pain and dissatisfaction. Seeing is at service leads to fulfillment.”
And as I said before, service can take many different forms. From sharing your food to dedicating your whole life to help people in need. It can be smiling at someone, giving a helping hand, or listening to someone’s story.
It doesn't matter how big or small it might seem, as long as we serve (or give) from a loving heart, we enrich others and thus ourselves.
So, I guess in the end one could even argue that giving is selfish to some degree, because it makes us feel good. Well... I guess, it has a point, but it's not only with the matter of giving, it's with everything, because what we do to others, we ultimately do to ourselves.
Once again, I want to quote one of my favorite musicians, Xavier Rudd, because I can’t put it any better than him:
"When will you learn that the more you take
Means the less that you have at the end of the day.
Stillness of the mind is so hard to embrace
Freedom of the heart is what we crave."
Or in my own words:
Eating peanut butter feels great. But sharing it with somebody else can feel even better ;-)
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