Community

The old saying “Man is not an island” does not seem to hold sway today with the onset of technology. Too often the trend in our society today is for people to be separated from one another. Instead of visiting family and friends we SMS them by mobile; instead of meeting and having a conversation we send an email. People stay home to watch television instead of meeting friends for a coffee. Cars have taken us off the streets where we used to greet each other and stop to chat. We don’t have to leave home to shop – it can be ordered through your computer. Young people are brought up with the latest technology but they have trouble holding a conversation. The tendency is toward selfishness rather than giving, on helping ourselves rather than helping others in the community.

How many people know their neighbours today? You can live in a street of 20 to 50 people and not know what difficulties are going on behind closed doors. You can begin to know your neighbours by smiling and waving to them. Be the first to say, “Hello”. After a time the ice will melt and you can get to know one another. Be prepared to keep an eye on their home when they are away; when someone is ill, cook them a dinner. If you want to help someone, it is good to start in your own street. This is the beginning of community There is no better way to enrich your life than by enriching the lives of others. Helping others can give you a sense of purpose and reaffirm your belief in yourself. As you interact with people your purpose in life can be revealed; you have talents and abilities that you can use to help others and it can make you feel useful. When you help others you go into a situation which you can change for the better and this can give you a sense of accomplishment.

It is so easy to become involved in your own never-ending activities but when you help someone you step outside of yourself and see the world from a different perspective. When you are genuinely able to give someone else a helping hand, it will always be a fulfilling experience. Helping doesn’t mean that you have to go out of your way; it just means that when opportunities present themselves you seize them and make someone’s life easier. For example, when someone drops something as they pass you, pick it up and hand it to them. If someone asks you for directions, be prepared to stop what you are doing and help them. We all have busy lives, but if we stopped and helped others a little more often we would be much happier within ourselves and build a sense of community appreciation and gratitude.

Compassion

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion; if you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Dalai Lama

Have compassion! Compassion is more than sympathy and it is certainly not pity for someone weak or inferior. It is more than ‘helping the less fortunate’ – that is elitist and paternalistic. Compassion is a verb – a ‘doing’ word. Someone who has compassion for another shows a depth of understanding and kindness to a point of shared suffering and a desire to reduce that person’s suffering by doing something to alleviate it. Compassion essentially arises from empathy and is often characterised through people taking action to aid those people for whom they feel deep compassion. Mother Teresa is a perfect example of compassion for the poor and down-trodden people of India.

Arthur Jersild describes compassion beautifully when he says, “Compassion is the ultimate and most meaningful embodiment of emotional maturity. It is through compassion that a person achieves the highest peak and deepest reach in his or her search for self-fulfillment.

Science has found physical benefits to practicing compassion. People who practice it produce 100 per cent more DHEA which is a hormone that counteracts the ageing process and 23 per cent less cortisol – the ‘stress’ hormone. It has also been proven that the compassionate person is happier and more fulfilled and that happiness rubs off on those around them.

Compassion is often channelled into counselling people in need and there is so much to do in this area. Counsellors are never judgemental, never shocked and they accept the person in need, totally. They listen and befriend. As a listener they hear, deeply, what the other person is saying and as a friend they share another’s journey and struggles.

This is a very in-depth area of giving and helping others and the people who do this work are very special. They are there for those at risk and to help them grow.

Volunteering

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” William Shakespeare

Research indicates that those who consistently help other people experience less depression, great calm and better health. They may even live longer. Volunteering is on the rise and for good reason – people the world over need help. At all levels of society people are stepping up and lending a helping hand. They are seeing what is going on around them and realising that they can make a difference, simply by getting involved.

Volunteering to help charities or other non-profit organisation may be a way where you can volunteer your time to help others; however, you may prefer to volunteer on a more flexible basis to help friends or others in need. Volunteering may vary from serving soup at a homeless shelter every week to holding open the elevator door for an elderly person or a young mother and being aware of and taking opportunities to help when they occur.

If you wish to volunteer you should not need to make huge time commitments. Beware of taking on too much, or you will risk feeling resentful. Vary your acts of generosity. It can be particularly helpful to participate in Meals on Wheels and find elderly people who are living on their own and feeling lonely and vulnerable. Visiting them and taking them on short trips is very rewarding. Elderly people have a lifetime of experiences to share and it should be easy to provide happy conversation. These things help you appreciate your own life much more by learning about the difficulties other people have to overcome.

Helping people can remind you how fortunate you are and make you feel connected to others. There is joy in giving of yourself and it often adds a sense of purpose and meaning to life and makes you feel needed and effective. By helping where you can you inspire other people to contribute in meaningful ways to those around them.

Give Service

You can certainly help others one on one, but it is also good to be part of a group that helps others. There are a number of ways to do this, but a very good way is to join a service club such as Lions, Apex or Rotary. By joining such a club you are able to give of your time and use your talents to help people right around the world. In return you get the fellowship of other members and often there can be someone there who may be able to help you when you need it.

Helping Others in the Corporate Atmosphere

We have already seen that success comes as a direct result of helping other people become successful. In life, it is not just how much a person can benefit themselves but how much they can create opportunities for others. This is particularly true in the corporate world where individual actions produce awareness that one’s activities and their results have an impact on the activities of others. It is a system of interrelationships where helping others can have a great multiplier effect and bring back extra benefits to the business.

In your business, take the time to find people’s strengths and help them, first to build on them and then to use them. Build up confidence in your team. This comes from being properly trained and when they are successful at putting a newly acquired skill to work, they will be more confident and ready to repeat the action. Assist your team to realise they are not the only ones going through training and that they have others to turn to for support. Again, listening is important. Most of us are so busy talking we don’t take the time to listen – it is a skill we all need to work on. When you help others, help them to succeed on their terms. When you see talent and passion, take it upon yourself to help people who are motivated.

At a forum at RMIT International University, Vietnam, Lord Michael Hastings said, “People who enjoy truly great success have a wonderful opportunity to create more opportunities for the same kind of success for others – others who may not have had the same opportunities to educate themselves or to advance their careers”. He also said, “This helped show the way to people like Warren Buffet (one of America’s richest investors) and Bill and Melinda Gates (of Microsoft) to make their own major philanthropic commitments to help others less fortunate than themselves.”

Other great businessmen have shown the way by doing great philanthropic work.

Billionaire Ted Turner is a daring visionary who founded Cable Network News and turned a single TV station into an entertainment and communications empire. His eccentricities have earned him both respect and condemnation, but whatever is said about Ted let it be known that he is also a philanthropist. He believes we can make the world a better place and uses his time and money to help others and stimulate change. In 1985 he formed the Better World Society, an organization dedicated to producing socially aware television. He is a passionate environmentalist as well as an ardent voice against child hunger and regularly meets business and world leaders in search of solutions. He gives millions of dollars in grants and donations from his wealth to the community every year.

In Australia, Peter Irvine, co-founder of Gloria Jean’s Coffees, a business which is having great success internationally, has partnered with Mercy Ministries to raise awareness of the needs of young women in the community. They also support Compassion International by sponsoring children in a coffee growing region of Brazil. Compassion teams up with local communities to provide support programs for children at risk in poverty stricken areas of the world. As well, the company supports Opportunity International, which provides low interest loans to people in third world countries so they can start businesses, enhancing their lives and local economies.

Gloria Jean’s Coffees are proud supporters of Teen Challenge, which runs programs for young men overcoming drug and alcohol dependency. Peter Irvine and his partner have a vision and that vision includes helping the less fortunate in the world. Peter Irvine says, “Therefore, we should be looking for creative ways to help those in need, whether in our own nation, overseas or indeed both. The benefits we will receive will far outweigh the actual rewards. As an individual, you should be looking for opportunities to be able to share what you are earning with other people. And our businesses should be exploring the best ways to invest in those in need.” (Taken from Peter Irvine’s book, “Win in Business”)

See The Potential In And Help Others

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi

It is a well-known principle that if you want to get the most out of your life to reach your potential, you must first help another to reach their potential. It is uplifting to be of service to others, giving them encouragement and support, caring enough about them so they can become the very best they can be. Your success can come as a direct result of helping others become successful.

Most people, at some time in their lives, find themselves in a position to help others build towards their potential. Whether it is in the home as a parent or in the office as a manager, you can become a person of influence. You can do this by caring and respecting others and by giving of your time generously.

With regard to time, always give more than required. It is part of the Law of Compensation which says that anyone can be reasonably successful by putting in and then getting out. When, however, you over-compensate you can enjoy extraordinary levels of success because the Law of Over-Compensation says that you should always look for ways to “go the extra mile”. The best people in business are those who invest a lot of time in human relationships, asking questions and listening attentively to the answers. They know they will be more effective by listening because when other people feel free to express themselves, they are more open to being positively influenced by the person doing the listening.

Caring is vitally important because it is a catalyst which brings relationships closer and engenders trust. Again, the more people feel that someone cares about them; the more open they are to be influenced by you. It has been said that a caring friend is worth ten uncaring ‘professionals’; your help will make a difference. Just don’t try to be everything to everyone!

Respect is something that must be earned. Everyone craves respect and when you genuinely respect other people’s ideas, opinions and accomplishments, they will genuinely like and respect you in return. They will also be more open to your influence than they would if you did not show sincere respect for them.

You must use your influence wisely and not try to impose your beliefs and your visions on the people you are helping. Always make sure you use that influence with love; don’t mix it with judgement and criticism or it will come back to bite you. It is important that the people you are helping recognise they have potential and that they can find out just what that potential is. To sincerely help others you must focus on them and keep the process completely about them; remember, you are helping people reach their potential, helping them discover their agenda and goals, not yours. Influence is power and it must not be misused.

To help others reach their potential will take guidance, encouragement and support. Share your training and learning experiences with them if they are helpful. Once you learn more about what they want to aspire to, you will be more aware of what is around that could help them move further toward their goal. Share these ideas and opportunities with them. As you succeed in helping one person, you will be encouraged to help others and your life will become more fulfilled.

The Principles of Giving

There is a Chinese proverb which says, “A giver is more fortunate than a receiver”. Why is that? Because, not only does it increase the value of the relationship in proportion to the amount of time you invest in it, the giver receives so much more in return.

There are, in fact, natural laws of life which govern giving and receiving. They are variously called, “the law of action and reaction”; “the law of radiation and attraction”; “The law of cause and effect”; “the law of sowing and reaping”. If you plant wheat you will harvest wheat, if you plant love you will receive love, if you give praise you will receive praise, and if you desire abundance you must give abundantly. Operate within the framework of these natural laws and they will work in your favour. If, however, you choose to work in opposition to these laws, they will work against you. It is important to remember that if you criticise others you are in the process of destroying yourself. When you give you will receive in overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more and running over. It is well to bear in mind that with whatever measure you use to give – large or small – will be used to measure what is given back to you.

Helping people is actually the easiest way to get what you want and it takes a lot less time and effort than one might imagine. If you want something good to happen to you, then you have to do something good for somebody else. Always be grateful that you are the one in a position to help others rather than the one in need of help but never be judgemental. If you have a problem, find somebody else with a problem and help them. Whenever you give, it comes back to you; that’s a natural law and it works.

Although you give, knowing you will receive back at some stage, it is unwise to give if your only motivation is to receive something back. That is a selfish philosophy which is unhelpful to either the giver or the receiver and it can be hurtful. Giving should come from the heart and only with the other person’s best interests in mind. Be prepared to give over and over again, not knowing when you will receive in return; just be open when it comes. Giving is never meant to be selfish. Receiving back just enlarges your store house so you can give even more next time.

Some people are natural givers but they find it hard to receive when others want to give to them. A compliment is given and they “tut, tut,” and say they did nothing. It is important to accept a compliment gracefully, smile and simply say, “Thank you”. Allow the compliment to flow through you and give it away again.

Too often, these days, people are looking for something for nothing. An economist, John Galbraith once said, “There is no such thing as a free lunch”. There is no such thing as receiving something for nothing. Someone once said, “Nothing is free, not even the air you breathe; you cannot take another breath until you give away the one you have”.

Whenever you give with the right spirit, your giving will not take from you but rather it causes you to be blessed in return. When you help someone, you actually gain the most out of the experience. The farmer works hard tilling the soil and planting the seeds, giving them to the ground and when they are harvested he will have multiplied his seed many times over. When you plant seeds of kindness and generosity wherever you go you will find yourself surrounded with people who will want to reciprocate and the help you receive will be multiplied many times over.

There is an old folk tale about a man who is lost in the desert and dying of thirst. By chance he finds a rusty water pump. He tries to pump the old thing, but nothing happens; no water comes out to quench his thirst. Then he notices beside the pump a small jug of water with a note from an old prospector. The note reads, “You have to prime the pump with water, friend”. Now, the man was really thirsty and needed water badly. He considered just drinking the water out of the jug, but then he decided to trust in the old prospector’s advice, instead. He poured the whole jug of water down the rusty old pump and began to pump it again. This time the water gushed out! The point is he had to give before he could receive.

If you want happiness and contentment, then give to another. Take yourself off the throne of selfishness, forget self and look around you. You will find so many people to whom you can give, whether it is giving of your time, your talents, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on or just a smile that someone needed. Where there is an effort there is, whether known or not, always a plan. All plans build something and in this instance your plans can build happiness and contentment while you are nurturing a positive mental attitude.