Rule #47: When all else fails help someone
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” Henry David Thoreau ( Walden)
Kids..before going on further I have to tell you if your read one thing in your life I recommend it being something by Thoreau. His view on the world change everything…and made a pathways for everything from the ending of slavery to modern social reform. I keep of copy of Walden in my office and have re-read it many times.
What I believe Thoreau was saying is that we all fight again the resignation that life will eventually defeat us, that we all suffer- and it is that bravery in the face of defeat that defines us.
With all the people that I have worked with over the years the one thing that is consistent is all of them is they all have significant pain and hurt in their lives. The common truth among people is that life is difficult.
The problem I have found is that because all pain is personal, it is too close to our own lives for us to really be objective about fixing it or dealing with it. We really struggle in helping ourselves with our own issues, and because of that we often get into ruts where nothing gets better. Self pity and hopelessness creep in because we are so close to our own pain we see nothing else but it.
The secret is to focus on helping someone else, and though it you will find the confidence and happiness necessary to deal with your pain.
As I write this entry I am deep in the mist of my father’ serious health problems. After 160 days of seizures, surgeries and 3 hospitals I am at my wit’s end as to what to do to bring peace to his life. I wake up at night and pray (I mean pray hard) for guidance, patience and peace for both him and I. I don’t fully understand the “why’s of life” in this situation, I am just managing it day by day.
But more effort by me won’t change a damn thing.
This morning I got a call from an our friend asking for business advice on a situation he was stuck on. Instead of just answering his questions I made some calls for him, and helped him resolve the problems. It felt really good- I couldn’t solve my big problem but I could help him solve his. And suddenly it all made sense.
Maybe we ultimately can’t solve our own problems either because the solution hasn’t revealed itself or the solution is to do nothing. But the peace we are looking for will come from helping others and not worrying about our own problems.
The inner focus at the time of crisis is our worse enemy. As pressure builds on our lives we need to find inner peace in the joy that comes from helping others. It helps us avoid doing desperate things in our own lives, and gain the wisdom that Thoreau was talking about.
So kids as you hit the obstacles of life that can not be climbed easily it may be the perfect time to look around in your life for someone else that is struggling. By helping others you will find the hidden strengths of self confidence and purpose that will get you over your own obstacles.
Hope comes from helping others not just helping yourself.