The Importance of Being Helpful
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The Importance of Being Helpful

There are two kinds of people in the world:  the givers and the takers.  Of the two, who do you think is the most content?  

If your response is "the takers", you're either naive or very selfish. The takers might have more material things and an easier time of it but, in many cases, they don't feel good about themselves as they know that they haven't done anything to deserve the things that people give them and/or the assistance that they get from others.  

I met someone, recently, who, when I told her that I like to give the names of my health care providers, for example, to others was certain that the reason that I liked to do that was the hope that these others would respond in kind by doing me a favor.  When I told her that that wasn't the reason, she didn't believe me.  The truth of the matter is that if I can encourage someone to go to a good, caring, well-educated health care provider as opposed to going to a second-rate doctor, it makes me feel good.  It, also, makes me feel good to refer people who have taken good care of me to others as I'm helping them grow their practice.  Is there anything other than feeling good in it for me?  Not really although, since I believe in karma, maybe there is.  

Whether I'm rewarded for my good deeds or my helpfulness isn't the point. Admittedly, as I'm not Mother Teresa, I want and expect to be thanked, verbally, but I don't expect more than that.  If I get anything more, I am both surprised and grateful.

Many years ago, in winter, I was walking in midtown Manhattan and noticed a blind man across the street, down the block, who was trying to negotiate a mound of snow.  I was disheartened to see that nobody stopped to help him. I might add that I was, also, appalled by the callousness with which people were scurrying by this disabled man.  I crossed the street as quickly as I could and got to the man before he slid and hurt himself and helped him cross the street safely.  I felt that it was the least that I could do and, as always, when I see a blind person, I realized my good fortune in being able to see.  

Don't get me wrong:  I'm no saint.  Anyone who has been on the receiving end of one of my tirades will tell you that I have a hot temper and that I'm not the most patient person on the face of the earth, except, of course, when I've been hired to be patient.  I am, however, an empathetic person and am, easily, able to put myself in the next person's shoes.  Maybe that's why I feel that it is so important for us to help each other.  I am not suggesting that we help one another to our own detriment, i.e., that we spend all day helping other people and don't get our work done (unless, of course, our job entails helping other people).  I am suggesting that, whenever possible, we try to help one another as we all gain something in that interaction:  the person who needs help, if he's normal, is grateful and feels more in control of his situation and we feel good for being able to make someone's burden a little lighter.  It's a win-win situation.

If you're ever feeling down and/or feeling envious of the man or woman you know who you think gets everything handed to him or her on a silver platter, remember the point of this piece:  it's easy to feel good about yourself when you help others as it gives you purpose and reinforces the idea that you're a nice person.  We all slip up, on occasion, as it's pretty hard to be nice 24/7, however, generosity of spirit rarely gets you into trouble unless, of course, you're dealing with a narcissist whom you encourage to rewrite his marketing letter because it's filled with typos and he gets angry that you had the temerity to try to correct him.  "It takes all kinds" as they say and, once in a rare while, you'll regret that you tried to help someone.  Most of the time, however, you'll be very glad that you did.

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Laura Lieff on Sunday, February 05, 2017 9:01 PM
Hi Nataly and thank you for your comment, Jeniffer. Apologies for my very tardy response.


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