“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
– St. Paul
I believe the original term was “charity.” I think in many ways, “charity” might be a better fit for what St. Paul was writing about. I think he was talking about acts of love toward other church members and the community. Charity is the act of giving. And giving can only come from a generous or loving heart.
And giving is key to personal growth.
Nancy Nicolazzo wrote an interesting article on the value of reaching out to others, as she defines “altruism.” In her article, the passage that struck me as most relevant to this little was:
“…the next time you are feeling depressed or less than self-confident, do something for someone else – you will see how it changes your life – you will love your life by reaching out to others.”
To me, this defines becoming a better person.
Anyhow, read the article and tell me what you think…
How to Love Life Again – Reach Out to Others
One definition of altruism is “loving others as oneself”. French philosopher Auguste Comte coined the word altruisme in 1851, and two years later it entered the English language as altruism.
In America and perhaps in most societies, we acknowledge the importance of altruism, but in a limited way. We are most often altruistic within the family. This model, however, limits each person’s altruism to a small number of people so that we have groups of “altruists” whose loving is limited and self-regarding. We love our family members as ourselves, so that we are in good relationships with them, we get what we need (emotionally and materially) and we are loved and cared for.
Outside of the family unit, we have the mindset that when we help others, we put ourselves at a disadvantage. This “I/me/mine” mentality fuels consumerism and depression (both economical and psychological). We need to move from a paradigm of “if you win, then I lose” to a paradigm of “When you win, I win”.
When we love others as ourselves, we let go of the desire to have power over others, we let go of hatred. We certainly have not lost this desire for power – war, ecological destruction and financial greed threaten us all. The good news in all of this is the possibility of establishing a global consciousness of altruism, a consciousness of love for all beings, a realization that to love life, we need to reach out to others.
There are many benefits to be gained by being altruistic.
- creates positive relationships with others
- is the basis for self-esteem
- lessens the desire for material objects, money and power (hatred) and
- brings us a sense of joy, and love for life.
In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr, “There is a power in love that our world has not discovered yet. Jesus discovered it centuries ago. Mahatma Gandhi of India discovered it a few years ago, but most men and most women never discover it. For they believe in hitting for hitting; they believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; they believe in hating for hating; but Jesus comes to us and says, “This isn’t the way.”
The Buddha, as stated in the Dhammapada, said “… hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule.”
So, how can we change the individualistic global consciousness to an altruistic consciousness? How do we move from depression, the “I/me/mine” mentality, greed and the “If you win then I lose” paradigm? We begin, as individuals with awareness of ourselves falling into these states and then we mindfully change our thinking and our actions. We become kinder, more compassionate, more generous with others and less self-involved. It works – the next time you are feeling depressed or less than self-confident, do something for someone else – you will see how it changes your life – you will love your life by reaching out to others.
Nancy Nicolazzo (Saddhamala) offers free information on awareness and mindfulness on her website http://mindfulworkshops.com/
She is a twenty-year veteran of teaching, consulting and coaching. Assisting individuals and corporate professionals to find new skills to improve their professional and personal lives with skillfulness, compassion and mindfulness is the focus of Nancy’s coaching. Nancy leverages what she has learned as a mother, teacher and Buddhist practitioner to offer a unique, relevant and valuable perspective to the people she coaches.
For a free list of ways to practice mindfulness, and to learn more about meditation and mindfulness coaching, click here http://mindfulworkshops.com/
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