“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” – Dalai Lama XIV
According to the the Merriam Webster dictionary, being selfless means “having or showing great concern for other people and little or no concern for yourself.”
When you’re being selfless, you’re thinking of other people before yourself. Selfless is the opposite of selfish.
How many of us can honestly say that we have never displayed selfish behavior?
At times everyone is selfish. In fact, some selfishness can be good (and acceptable) within the right context. Don’t believe me? Even Psychology Today agrees “Harry Browne refers to good selfishness as a two-sided transaction, an exchange where two people willingly part with something in order to gain something they value. Because both people are winning something they want, Covey calls this a win-win transaction.”
But, this blog post is about being more SELFLESS. Even the Bible is rife with verses dealing with selflessness.
- Leviticus 19:18 Forget about the wrong things people do to you. Don’t try to get even. Love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
- Deuteronomy 15:10 So be sure to give to the poor. Don’t hesitate to give to them, because the Lord your God will bless you for doing this good thing. He will bless you in all your work and in everything you do.
- Proverbs 18:1 Unfriendly people care only about themselves; they lash out at common sense.
I’d like to share a short story that I recently read over on Oprah.com that highlights a recent incredible act of selflessness.
As 17-year-old Graceanne Rumer stepped onto the school bus home from Calvary Christian Academy in Philadelphia one January afternoon, all she could think about was how exhausted she was. She knew she had to study for upcoming midterms, but she wished she could just go to sleep for a while.
Barely five minutes had gone by when Rumer suddenly realized, “Oh my gosh, the driver fell over.” The driver had passed out at the wheel and the bus was careening out of control. Though she’d only started driving a couple of weeks before, Rumer knew she had to do something. There were dozens of kids on the bus, some of them only in first grade. She rushed forward, grabbed hold of the wheel and steered the bus to the side of the road, pulling a U-turn to guide it out of oncoming traffic. “I couldn’t reach the brake pedal because the bus driver was right in front of me,” says Rumer, now a student at Penn State University. “I just put it in park. The bus stopped right before hitting the guardrails.”
The significance of what Rumer had done didn’t fully register until she spoke with the family members of the students she’d saved. “The parents there—some of them had three kids on the bus. They were all hugging me.” Rumer remains humble about her feat despite the kudos she’s received. “A lot of it was just a big miracle. I don’t consider myself heroic in the least.”
As I approach the second half of life, I’ve become much more aware of just how good it feels to be selfless. Doing for others is not only rewarding… it’s addictive! Even at my lowest, I try to conduct at least one selfless act a day. If I’m in a crappy mood, it cheers me up. And if I’m in a wonderful mood to begin with… well, it simply magnifies it ten fold.
In fact, I’d like to think that I’ve become selfishly selfless!
But even being selfishly selfless really isn’t about how it makes us feel. It’s about helping others reclaim a sense of dignity that they often haven’t felt in a very long time, showing them that someone does think they are important, and assisting them in regaining their self-worth.
It is seeing that glimpse of joy and happiness in the eyes of those we are blessed to be able to help that pushes us to continue to do even more. That’s what drives us to be selfishly selfless.
So, in closing, I’d like to share 10 quick tips to help begin your journey of becoming more selfless. These are in no particular order, but, all are easy and important!
- Donate when (and what!) you can. A little is definitely better than nothing.
- Volunteer your time.
- Learn to forgive.
- Take pleasure in other’s happiness.
- Be selfless anonymously.
- Stand up for those who don’t stand up for themselves.
- Compliment someone.
- Inspire others.
- Send a nice handwritten card or email to someone you know unexpectedly.
- Encourage someone with their dreams – no matter how big or small they may be.
So, there you have it! Ten easily accomplished ways to be more selfless. Try one today!