Having read that it is important to have a sense of self in the previous article in this series, we now turn to an important lesson in selflessness.
It says, “…if I’m only for me, what am I? Nothing!”
When I was in college, I got really down about life and humanity in general after the September 11th attacks. I wondered to myself what could possibly be left now that this horrific event had happened. I was wandering around a bookstore at the time and happened upon a copy of the book We the Living by Ayn Rand.
I spent much time reading her writings and thinking that being selfish was the way to be — that one could not get hurt because one was always only doing things for ones self. I am glad to say that I have long since graduated from that school of thinking.
In this world, we have many opportunities — some that come right up to us in our faces — to help others. It is not even entirely necessary to get off of your phone (though it is a good idea to look up while walking once in awhile and enjoy the view) to do so.
For example, on occasion I like to get on Twitter and search for people who post updates about how their workout was that day. In response to these total strangers, I will post a tweet telling them that they did great and they should keep up the good work, encouragement like that.
I have no personal interest in that total stranger doing well but I have found that there are two types of people in the world — those who can use encouragement and fictional people who don’t exist because everybody can benefit from being encouraged.
Once a friend of mine and I were walking and saw a person that was struggling after having a slight fall in a snow bank. I said we should go over and help and he told me that he would be happy to go over and laugh at them. I would have pushed further but it didn’t seem useful and he seemed pressed for time and so we kept on walking — but I do wish I had stopped to help the person.
If I am only for me, what am I?
Notice the word is WHAT — not who.
Being only for yourself completely dehumanizes — as it is natural for one human to do something to help another, I think.
Be not only for yourself. Often the key to receiving help is to help someone with the same problem. If I am trying to get fit, often the key to doing so is to find someone else who is struggling and encourage them, and even go over to their home and exercise with them. Motivate them — and you will find your own motivation.
Be a who — not a what. Be for others, not only for yourself.