Giving or Getting



The words you have no doubt heard all of your life and the advice given from well meaning people goes something like this “achieve all you can, make all the money you can, then save all you can so you have a hefty nest egg when you retire.” The inference of this advice is that if you do this it will bring you a lifetime of happiness, peace and fulfillment. It is a worthy pursuit to provide for yourself and not have to depend on others for your subsistence. There is nothing wrong with this advice unless you buy into the myth that “getting” will bring you lasting fulfillment and that this is your purpose in life.

It is true that achievement will certainly feed your ego. Being smarter, having more trophies and more recognition when comparing yourself to others will make you happy for a time. Having more material “things” will also make you happy on some level. But these things can vanish. The happiness coming from ego satisfaction and material possessions may not last and at some point after attaining these things, you may feel there is something more or you may feel an emptiness. We all know people who are successful and wealthy but sill manage to be miserable. However, there is a higher level of joy that does survive. It is “giving” that will bring you happiness in life – not the “getting”. The greatest happiness you will ever have is to give of yourself.

Your purpose in life is to give yourself away and be generous in sharing your plenty. Following any other way to a lasting personal fulfillment is a dead-end. Our culture is teaching that you can have happiness and the life you have always dreamed of by making the correct career choice, by getting recognized for your career achievements, or by the amount of money you make. This philosophy can make you happy at a certain level and is worthy of your efforts. But do not build your whole life on this myth. The simple principles that our greatest teacher gave us shines a light on the path to true fulfillment – giving. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us the recipe for how to be rich spiritually and by extension happy. In his book Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis stated, “Give up yourself and you will find your real self. “

Whatever the reason for your appearance on the planet, somewhere in your heart you know there is a divine presence in your life and a concern to serve others in the flash of time that you are on this earth.

Herman Melville described the “half-lived life” in Moby Dick. Are you living the half-lived life? Are you living your life as fully as you were meant to live?

By carol

Carol Ann Bailey EdD, Retired Associate Vice Chancellor, Regional Programs Assistant Professor, Director of Center for Rural Health, Retired, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

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