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A Life Lived for Others

A number of years ago, the head of a crisis pregnancy center told me that the key to helping women rise from the depression or despondency stemming from past hurts rested in one thing. They needed to realize that happiness comes from helping others . . . from a life lived for another.

Even someone who is broken can find happiness when they practice generosity.

One little self-abandoning act that results in kindness toward another does something to the soul of the giver. Giving one’s self results in finding one’s self.

Almost every self-help list out there says that we need to remember to take care of ourselves. Cut from our lives the toxic people. Focus on our goals and what makes us happy.

But that is not the key to happiness.

Do you know what creates happiness? Giving of one’s self. Opening one’s life to another. Touching someone. Entering into another’s day. Make it better for him.

Not counting the cost.

Yesterday, someone asked me how to become a syndicated columnist. I have been asked that question before, and I give an answer. I give the answer that I would want to receive – what worked. When he wrote back to say thanks, I thought about the moment of personal judgment. It will be fun when Jesus reviews that moment with me. It just felt great.

The other day, I introduced two people I barely know, business associates who may be able to collaborate on a great new project – one that can touch many lives – one that doesn’t benefit me in some way. When I heard that something very good was coming out of their meeting, it felt like I was looking at a magnificent sunrise on the Sea of Galilee. I was given the gift of just looking at something beautiful unfolding before my eyes.

This week, I sent out a number of little packages… things I had brought back from Israel and hadn’t gotten around to sending to people that are dear to me. Each time I hear from those dear ones, it brings joy. Lasting joy. I still feel the joy of it today.

I am not always so open, so giving, so generous. But when I am, I am always glad.

Truly, there is happiness when I live life for another – when I deliberately set aside my time, my fears, my agendas, my needs, my gazillion what-ifs.

Open.

A life poured out for another.

Guard down. Hand stretched out. Eyes on someone else.

The key to happiness.

Lest I forget… here it is again:

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become as holy as I should…

 

One Comment Post a comment
  1. This makes so much sense. ‘Taking care of yourself’ can lead to so much emptiness and alone-feelings. When you can do for others, that’s making a connection that can help both parties.

    It makes me wish I could do more for others— as a low-income person, there’s not a lot I can do. But I think if there were more things I could do for others, I would be less unhappy with my life.

    July 17, 2014

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