The Power Of One

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    "Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory. I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve." These words, written by physician, Albert Schweitzer, express a vital truth: the more you give (serve) others, the happier you will be.

    You may think you have nothing worthy of giving, nothing of value you can contribute to others. Not true! History is full of examples of the power that a single individual possesses. Dramatic changes can be made by the daily choices of a solitary individual. The key operative words here are: "daily choices."

    When you make daily choices to bring value to everyone you meet, you contribute to the "common good" not only to others, but also to a culture of positive character. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow writes: "No man is so poor as to have nothing worth giving: as well might the mountain streamlets say they have nothing to give the sea because they are not rivers. Give what you have. To someone it may be better than you dare to think."

    Indeed, each of us has something to give. If you read, find someone who can’t and read to him; if you are not hungry, give nourishment to someone who is; if you have a hammer, find a nail; if you are content, give to someone who isn’t; if you have enough material things, share them with someone who doesn’t; if you can sing or play music, do so loud enough for others to hear; if you love, give to someone who feels unlovable.

    Philosopher, Bertrand Russell, once wrote: "It may seem to you conceited to suppose that you can do anything important toward improving the lot of mankind. But this is a fallacy. You must believe that you can help bring about a better world. A good society is produced only by good individuals, just as truly as a majority in a presidential election is produced by the votes of single electors."

    When you contribute to the betterment of someone else…when you give of yourself to benefit others, you realize the happiness you may have sought for yourself. The story is told that Mohandas Gandhi once settled in a village and at once began serving the needs of the villagers who lived there. A friend inquired if Gandhi’s objectives in serving the less fortunate were purely humanitarian. Gandhi replied, "Not at all. I am here to serve no one else but myself, to find my own self-realization, to lead my own life through service to these village folk."

    As Gandhi wisely points out, even as we serve others we are working on ourselves; every act, every word, every gesture of genuine compassion naturally nourishes our own hearts, as well. It is not a question of who is healed first. When we attend to ourselves with compassion and mercy, more healing is made available for others. And when we serve others with an open and generous heart, great healing comes to us…and we are more empowered than before to lead the way toward world understanding and peace.

    If you want genuine happiness in your life, practice the natural skill we all have: giving to others. Choose to contribute your singular power to the benefit others, and your own happiness is assured. To paraphrase Etienne De Grellet: You shall pass through this life but once. Any good, therefore, that you can do or any kindness you can show to any fellow creature, do it now. Do not defer or neglect it, for you shall not pass this way again.

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