Reaching Out

It’s no secret that helping others is a good thing to do. It’s an act of kindness that repays itself in the look of appreciation in someone’s face after you’ve lightened their load. But have you thought about the unexpected benefits of helping others? The truth is that, in doing so you will also enter into a journey of spiritual and emotional growth. This growth, spurred by the unexpected joy that beams back at you as thanks, continues to enrich your life in unexpected ways.

Lost dog
Consider what may happen if you find someone’s lost dog. You return the four-legged furball to its owner and you see the relief in the person’s face upon its return. Do you stick around for a monetary reward? No, because the true reward is in seeing the love that emanates between the owner and the dog when they nuzzle up.

Pay if forward
The concept of paying it forward comes into play here. One helps others, then their good deed gets passed on to others, and so forth. And in doing so, you are generating goodness to multiples of people who are each receiving the same swelled emotions as repayment for their actions. Notice how you feel when you’ve just delivered food to the elderly or provided new clothes or books to an underprivileged family or helped raise money to help a community in trouble.

Building houses via Habitat for Humanity, for example, gives volunteers a great sense of accomplishment and pride in their work. Knowing that they’ve contributed in giving someone a new home is a thrill that helps the giver understand that there is meaning in their efforts. These are all actions of goodness whose own reward is the act itself – and the camaraderie and passion of the people involved. These are feelings that make an essential contribution to your sense of well-being and identity.

Give of yourself
Furthermore, there is a therapeutic aspect to such endeavors. Say, when you’ve dodged the proverbial bullet in getting a cancer-free scan during your mammogram, try putting the relief you feel into helping others who weren’t so lucky with their results. By joining an organization like Breast Cancer Action or doing a fund raising walk, you can raise funds for breast cancer research and obtain a sense of fulfillment from knowing that the sacrifice of walking 39 miles in two days (whew!) will help many. You’ll also develop lasting relationships with your fellow walkers and maybe become more involved in the fundraiser over time. This transcends merely writing a check (not to discount that) and is a perfect example of how helping others can affect one’s self of spirituality and emotions in the process.

Helpful vacations
There’s nothing wrong in helping others while indulging oneself, either. Next time you’re planning an exotic vacation, consider “humanitourism.” Relief Workers International allows you to assist doctors while they treat people in various villages in India. This way, you’re part Nurse Nightingale and part adventurer as you stay in comfortable tents in gorgeous natural settings. Inside/Out takes travelers to Zagoria, Greece to provide medical care for their dog population. After you’re done helping out with the pooches, you can embark on an ecotour of the nearby mountains and waters. Roadmonkey’s excursion takes vacationers on a week-long hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro then has them assist in the rebuilding of a school for kids who’ve been orphaned as a result of AIDS.

Think of how great you’d feel after seeing the difference you’ve made in someone’s life. Imagine how that swell of emotion will help you ride out any storms in your own life. You’re not just walking through life when you do these deeds – you’re making a difference as it helps put your own problems in perspective.

Next time the opportunity occurs for you to help someone, do so happily and wholeheartedly. Don’t expect monetary rewards. Just ride the wave of happiness you’ll earn as the true reward for easing someone else’s life. Remember: You can’t touch someone else’s life without also feeling touched in return.

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