Helping People

Caleb & John (@Virtual Grace, precursor to HugNation)

“I feel something deep inside that says whatever time you have left, give yourself to loving people and helping people.”
–Rev. Caleb Shikles

Saturday night, I was driving while the sun was setting. I was in a great mood and reflecting on how wonderful my day had been.
But for a moment I couldn’t remember what I had done all day.

In the morning I visited my parents and helped with babysitting my nephews. Caleb was a handful – but I managed to keep him pretty busy. We played catch, chase, and wrestled. He only made his little brother cry twice. And I only made Caleb cry twice.
As I left my mom was very thankful – but I shrugged it off. I wasn’t there out of obligation, I was there by choice!

Later I visited my friend Edwerd. I set him up a blog last week and he needed some help with uploading and posting photos. After I gave him a tutorial he thanked me profusely. I appreciated the gesture, but realized that it was truly *my* pleasure. My actions were motivated by a kind of selfishness: I am at a point in my life where if I have free time, I would LOVE to spend it helping someone I love.

Driving home from Edwerd’s, I dropped by a friend’s house who mentioned they needed to borrow my hair clippers. (I had put them in the car earlier – I don’t always drive around ready to trim people’s necks.)

By the time I was driving home in the sunset, I had spent the bulk of my day helping people. And contrary to feeling depleted, I felt warm and energized. Grandpa’s words replayed in my head. Was I “getting it” finally??

When I called my mom later in the eve, she reflected on how much I have changed recently in that regard. “We used to hate asking you for anything,” she said. “If we needed a ride to the airport, you would do it grudgingly and make it very clear that you had things to do. But lately you’ve spent full days helping us with the computer and it feels like you are happily present.”

I’m still wrapping my head around this: Help people=good day. Could it be that simple?

I recently heard about a study where they looked at happiness trends. They found that once you get your basic needs met, getting more stuff did not meaningfully affect a person’s happiness. The one thing they found that DID affect people’s happiness was by GIVING more.
How’s that for turning the model on it’s head? We spend all our energy trying to get stuff. And the only thing that will really make us happy is to give.

Later that night another friend sent me an email asking if they could borrow my photo studio. After making sure I was free, my thought was, “SWEET! It’s gonna be another great day!”


**To hear Grandpa’s quote, watch the first minute of the video at the top of**