Helping Others Will Do You Lots of Good


 Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Albert Einstein was once asked "Why are we here (on this planet)?" He answered,
"We are here to help others." 

As much of a scientific genius as Einstein was, I also respect him as a philosopher who constantly reflected on the meaning and purpose of life with equal ease and brilliance . Indeed, helping others can be a very powerful drive. 

The great achievers change the world they live in because they never cease to care about the people around them. The desire to help others can become a motivator even more powerful than the one that is driven by the self serving desire. 

Emotions are the fuel of the motors of our creative and innovative thinking . Emotions which are directed by the interests for others can gain a force and an intelligence which is greater than the person himself. People, who can hold these emotions in their heart for a long time and keep working hard for the desired objective, acquire personal success, even material successes, they never imagined.

The story of Alexander Graham Bell is a story of inventions driven by the desire to
help others. Bell's father was a speech therapist. Young Bell worked very hard to master the signs of phonetics and speech therapy because he passionately wanted to help deaf and mute people. Later, his mother's growing deafness pressed on him even harder the need to help the deaf communicate with others. 

Bell worked hard year after year because he wanted to help people get through to one another. The thought that some people have to remain isolated from others by their misfortune of deafness became intolerable for him and to remove this barrier became his obsession. Bell once said, "All the hope of the world and desire for fame will never make one an inventor. . . . You may give him wealth or you may take away from him all that he has, and he will go on inventing. " 

Necessity is the mother of invention and for some people the need of others becomes their necessity. In that they feel their life has fulfilled a purpose. Bell spent his life constantly searching, creating and inventing devices and equipment that would help the people in his world. At one time he said, "Certainly no man can have a higher incentive to renewed exertion than the hope of relieving suffering and saving lives. " 

The story of his entire creative and productive life has a thread of an altruistic motive. He transformed his fear for and the desire to help others into the drive for creativity and invention which translated in to a formidable array of achievements.

Taking a contemporary example, in England, Morris, who has been a hairdresser for
most part of his career, was so moved by a plane disaster in which 54 people died because of fire and smoldering smoke inside the aircraft. He became obsessed with producing a material which would not easily burn. Today, he has manufactured a form of plastic, called "starlight" which is the most stubborn fire retardant material ever invented. It is an invention which some people acclaim to be worthy of a Nobel prize and he has been offered twenty million dollars for selling 45 percent of the rights to his formula for the production of this plastic. An altruistic emotion can be the most fertile ground for creativity and monetary success.

There are many examples of entrepreneurs, industrialists, and the stars of the business
world who reached the peak by constantly asking themselves how their product could improve the lives of others. Since they have been thinking about the needs of others, they could offer exactly what people needed. This orientation to others has some health benefits too . Helping others, kindness, love, and similar feelings for others, increase the body's immunity. High energy level, high self esteem, relaxation, satisfaction, and a general feeling of well being are other benefits. One can be extremely creative, productive, and successful by letting the heart guide the mind but heart has to be in the right place!

The "other-centeredness" as differed from "self centeredness" has direct and immediate benefit for relationships with people around you. To test its merit, you can do a little experiment. Make it as your goal that every day, for 6 months, you will help every one you can. You will take realistically whatever opportunity you have to help others around you, be kind to them, pay them a genuine compliment, respect them, and say something helpful, if appropriate. Every day, before going to bed, evaluate yourself on a scale of 0 to 10, "How helpful was I today to others?" Will your relationships with people around you change, if you work on this experiment everyday? You bet!

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