By Johannes Helmold
The individualistic way of thinking, that we must seek out what is most pleasurable to us and do our best to attain it, is flawed. Though we have heard time and again that wants are not satiable, we continue to yearn for greater heights of pleasure or to feel something that has been within our grasp for a long time but has not been fully realized. Seeking continually for greater success is a system that breeds dissatisfaction and depression. Doing what we do not want to do has many more benefits.
We do not want to share our wealth or time with others, as it means that we would lose something of our own. We do not want to complete tasks for societal good that make less money than work that pays enormous sums to only those involved. We do not want to take the time and build firm relationships with our family and friends, as that means less time making money and moving towards personal endeavors.
Acts of selflessness are rare, and when they are reported on in the news, it seems as if something supernatural has happened. But in fact, we have opportunities to do the “supernatural” each day. Each moment is an opportunity to help others, to make the place where we live a better place. We need to discontinue focusing almost entirely on ourselves. Strangely, focusing on others helps ourselves quite a bit.
Not only are people more willing to help you if you help them, but if your surroundings are in better conditions and are better maintained, you will benefit from them more. Instead, most of the developed world is focused on a “get mine” attitude that fosters a detrimental environment for people’s overall success. After leading a life bent on garnering individual success, we start to develop dissatisfaction and depression, as there is no end to our wanting. Most of us cannot enjoy what we already have and are continually focused on gaining more goods, services, and money in general.
The solution is to do things you do not want to do. Most times, the things we do not want to do helps others and the general populace. It can be simple acts like cleaning up after others’ messes (physical and metaphorical), hiring a candidate that is a little less qualified but needs a break into the field, or holding the door for a disabled person. Leading a life based on selflessness in a grandiose way is not a bad idea either: Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi are examples.
To be truly happy, we have to look out for others first, and leave our ego behind. Indulging in individual success makes one’s achievements less significant and less profitable.
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