In a fast-paced society, saturated with pressures to perform and demands to be the best; an unhealthy self-absorption is flourishing. The corporate world deems it necessary to succeed, even if it means the demise of co-workers and the neglect of family. The social world dictates that we have to have the perfect body and the latest fashion accessories. And the worst culprit of all is the technological world: seducing us with a myriad of machines that keep us so entranced that we lose sight of everyone else around us. As we hurriedly commute to work, we forget to smile at the person sitting next to us as we stare fixatedly at the screen clutched in our hand. In fact, should an elderly person be standing directly in front of us, in desperate need of our seat, we would probably not even notice.
This notion of self-absorption extends even further than just the tangible acts of each day. Consumerism has us endlessly searching for everything and anything that will finally offer us the fulfilment we yearn for. Our lives overflow with the despairing phrase if only. If only we could afford our dream home, then we would be happy. If only I could get that management role, then I would be happy. And yet, even when we do obtain what we have been yearning for; somehow, strangely, we still do not feel fulfilled.
This in no way means that we are doomed to a life that lacks fulfilment. We just need to understand how to select the correct paths that yield fulfilment. If only we could step out of our bubble of self-absorption for just long enough to appreciate all the people around us. By choosing to rather seek ways to serve others, we automatically, and without even noticing, start to expand with a fulfilment that is far more sustaining than any materialistic device could offer.
There are so many special ways in which we can enrich somebody else’s life, and surprisingly, most of these ways requires minimal effort and time. Serving others is simple and easy. All it requires is to give from a generous heart. It has often been said that it is not important how a gift is received, but how it is given. And very often, we do not ever know the true impact of how our gifts brighten somebody else’s heart. If you are giving with the expectation of receiving something in return - whether it be a gift, or recognition, or glory - you have totally missed the objective of giving.
Many people also have the misconception that the only gift worth giving is money. And while many people around us are in desperate need of an extra bit of money; yet if you take the time to explore this concept of serving others, you will soon start to find very creative and ingenious ways to brighten someone’s day.
All too often, people will hide their emotions and try to conceal any outward show of need or despair. Whether you pray, meditate or listen to your gut feeling, try to be receptive to how people are really feeling. It will assist you in being aware of someone who is in need, when perhaps they themselves have not even yet articulated the need.
Maybe an overwhelmed mum just needs five solitary minutes amidst the chaos of screaming children. Maybe a widower just needs five minutes of conversation to replace their loneliness with laughter. Maybe a suicidal teen just needs five minutes of reassuring words to give them the comfort they so desperately crave.
Taking the time to tell someone that you appreciate all that they do, and that you love the exceptional person that they are can brighten someone’s heart with a magnitude far greater than any lavish gift. It is very easy to get so absorbed by our daily chores and routines, and forget to appreciate the special people that brighten our hearts each day.
We all have talents and gifts that are unique to us, and therefore we all have unique ways in which we can serve others. Take the time to explore your own qualities. Rather than being consumed by your cell phone or laptop, try to look outwards and see whose day needs an extra smile. Gifts come in all forms, and the most treasured ones are very rarely bought from an expensive shop.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” - Helen Keller.
Thank you Sarah. I enjoyed writing this article. It's also helped me to be more conscious of the people around me and actively finding ways to brighten their day. I'm sure your Dad loved his handmade gift?
Great article and so true! People (all of us, to an extent) tend to focus on ourselves and what we can have. The pull of conformity and the conditioning we grow up with due to media and advertising makes us incredibly self-absorbed.
I was actually despairing this morning that I couldn't buy a fancy gift for my pop's birthday. You've reminded me that there are certain skills that are unique to each of us and that we can use to touch the lives of others. I am going to make him a beautiful gift like I used to when I was a little girl. Thanks for your insightful article :)