This blog could be tagged with words like self-improvement, quotes, inspiration and motivation. There are a lot of blogs, books, DVDs and so on out there with a similar theme. Naturally their focus is generally on the self, and how to improve it. You could say they are inward looking. They examine the self and find ways to improve it and make it better, and they are a good thing.
However, on it’s own, this is not a complete approach. Self improvement is something that should include an outward focus.
Mother Teresa helped people, Steve Irwin helped animals, Al Gore helps the planet. I’m sure all three have room for improvement, but would they be better off spending time on self improvement? Or are we glad they chose to try to make the world a better place?
The Golden Rule, which is found in varying forms in almost all cultures and spiritual traditions, is very much outward focused. I bet anyone who lives the Golden Rule to the very best of their ability is someone who is really developing themselves – far more than someone who is dwelling heavily on their own inner workings without regard for the world around them.
By focusing on the world around you, you are engaging with it. It’s give and take – you share in it’s sadness, but also in it’s joy.
There have been various studies conducted into the effect of volunteering on volunteers which all point in the same direction – “volunteer work does help people live longer”. This study attributed this mainly to the fact that volunteers are actively engaged in their communities which boosts their mental well-being, which in turn improves their physical health.
So by helping others you also help yourself.
This isn’t really a surprise is it? The great spiritual teachers have all said this: Buddha said “Action and reaction are opposite and equal”, Jesus said “As you sow, so shall you reap”, and many others have said similar things throughout our history.
At the end of the day – what goes around comes around.