When I was four years old, my mother did something strange. For the first time, she gave me money. Until then, she had only taken it away; as a toddler, I had the habit of putting everything in my mouth.
Before I could celebrate my new found wealth, she stopped by a beggar and pointed to a collection plate in front of him. For a moment, I wanted to pretend like I didn’t know what she was talking about. I also wanted to run away, but out of fear eventually gave in.
Begrudgingly, I dropped the first coin she ever gave me into someone else’s plate.
This was the first, but not the last time; on countless occasions she would give me a coin which I, in turn, had to give to a homeless person. “Why should I give away something I will need sooner or later? In fact, why should I give at all?” I would secretly ask myself for the next 20 years, embarrassed to admit my scepticism about charity.
Over time, something strange happened. Each time I gave something away, I felt good about myself. I didn’t understand why; I even thought there was something wrong with me. How could one be happy experiencing loss? How could one be happy with less? Bizarre, I concluded. So I spent the next few years quietly studying the benefits of giving, and below are the reasons I found.
1 You will need help one day. The golden rule “Do unto others what you would like them to do unto you” is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. If you help no one, don’t expect anyone to help you; but, what you do for others, you do for yourself.
2. Make a difference in someone’s life. To make a difference in someone’s life, put a smile on his or her face. If you have the power to make someone smile, you have the power to change the world.
3. It makes you feel better. Human beings are wired to do good; that is why, when we do, we feel good about ourselves. What you seek for others you find for yourself. Seeking happiness for others brings happiness to you.
4. Show people who you are. No one honours the stingy, but generous people earn continuous praise. When you give back, you show people that you have a heart, and when you have a heart, people esteem you—for givers, not takers, better the world.
5. Develop new skills. When volunteering, you discover things about yourself that you wouldn’t have otherwise. When not being paid to do something, chances are you are doing something you wouldn’t normally do, which is an opportunity to pick up and develop new skills.
6. Make good friends. Negative people seldom volunteer; positive people often do. One of the best ways to meet good people is to volunteer; if you want to meet fish, you go in the water, and if you want to meet birds, visit the sky.
7. Grow spiritually. Your mind expands when you give, your heart expands when you share, and your soul expands when you are charitable. What you pour out into the world is poured right back into you, and when you pour love from your mind, your mind grows; from your heart, your heart grows; and from your soul, your soul grows.
8. Your generosity can become contagious. When you give back, even in small ways, it can lead to big things. Countless charities doing extraordinary work all over the world started this way. One brave person decided to make a small difference and ended up doing it in a way big.
9. You will be remembered. When you help people, you leave a part of yourself in their hearts. Angeline Mayu said, “People can forget what you did or said, but can never forget how you made them feel.” When you give back, you leave a good example for those who come after you. Your children and their children will know what example to follow just from watching you.
10. Make the world a better place. The only way to change the world is one good deed at a time. You don’t have to have a billion dollars to save the world; your time, skills, and talents can do just fine. The smallest thing you do for anyone counts.