Article by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead.
We often think that our success depends on focusing on ourselves. But this simply isn’t true.
Every successful person knows that you become successful because of how much value you give to others.
Yet, we often forget this.
It works the same way with our happiness, too. When I become overly focused on my goals and my feelings and my desires, I start to feel down. When I become focused on myself, it’s easy to think that everything is about me. But it’s not. And when I’m so focused on myself, I start to become easily offended by others. I think that others do things that I don’t like because of me, when they’re really just doing those things because of themselves.
See how easy it is to become depressed when you feel overly self-important?
That’s why it helps to turn your attention to others, and put your focus on giving, rather than receiving. You would think that by giving all the time, you will never receive. But the exact opposite is true; it’s because you give so much that you attract the desire for others to give back to you.
It’s crazy how this works:
- The best way to be interesting is to be interested in others.
- You gain more physical energy by burning energy when you exercise.
- The way to be loved is to be lovable.
- When you seek to understand, others are more likely to want to understand you back.
- By helping others, they are more inclined to help you in return.
I think it’s interesting how we intuitively know these things, but somehow our ego gets in the way. Our self-importance makes us think that we need to receive to justify giving. This is the same part of you that seeks to be right instead of happy. Is it worth it?
I think it’s a much more empowering position to be the one that gives first. Otherwise, who knows how long it will take the other person to initiate, if it even happens at all. To wait for others to give is like waiting for someone to give you what you want. Why not just ask and find out what happens?
Giving yourself away.
When you can give without expecting anything in return, you have mastered the art of living.
Is it any wonder that the most successful people in the world are masters of giving? The most successful people are the ones that provide the most value to others.
So the question is: How can you give more of yourself away?
I think you’ll find, as I have, that you’re most fulfilled not when you’ve done something really cool, or when you’re doing something that excites you (not that those things aren’t important). You are most fulfilled when you’re serving others.
Here are some suggestions for small, but powerful ways you can give to those around you today:
- Drop the expectations that you have for your partner and your family. Instead of expecting them to behave a certain way to you, see how you can show them how much they really mean to you.
- Give away your attitude. This is really one of the most awesome ways you can give to others. Your attitude and positive energy has an amazing effect on those around you. Darkness, when approached with light, becomes illuminated. In the same way, low energy, when approached by higher energy, dissolves. Help dissolve others’ lower energy patterns by bringing your higher, positive energy to them.
- Gift your intention. Whenever you encounter someone, say a silent blessing or send them a positive intention, instead of judging them.
- Show your gratitude. Write a simple note or letter expressing to someone how much they mean to you and the reasons you love them. The impact this will have on the receiver is amazing.
- Simply offer your help. If there’s nothing specific you can do for another person, simply let them know that if there is ever a way you can help, you would like them to let you know.
These things may seem small, but I think the world is changed by a profusion of micro ideas. Revolutions start with small actions.
So what I’d like to ask you now is, How can I help you? Let me know!
This article was written by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind.