I listen to motivational speaker Napoleon Hill every day as I work. What I love most about his lectures is the emphasis on harmony and good will. And recently I heard a quote of his that tugged at my heart: help others when you feel down and out. More specifically, he said, when you are in a bad state, find someone in a worse state and proceed to help them out. He concluded by saying something like, “By helping others, you’ll improve your own state.”
I love this quote! And it works.
My dad helped me a lot in life when I was in poverty. He bought me more restaurant meals than the number of months I’ve lived. He helped me out with cash on holidays and birthdays. He paid for my undergraduate degree. He was excessively generous.
And now that I’m in a decent financial position, I can help others, too. I give money to my impoverished young niece with the newborn baby, and I’m now able to help another loved one with groceries.
That’s what an education can do. It allows you to earn a decent income to give more freely to others. And when you give to others, you release oxytocin, the bonding hormone. Giving feels good.
I read somewhere that people with low oxytocin tend to crave sugar and giving gifts. That’s my dad. On his countertop, no matter the day of the week, he sports Black Forest cakes, carrot cakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls, or other sugary delights. And his fridge is loaded with varieties of ice creams, from ice cream sandwiches or ice cream cones to buckets of vanilla, which he changes up according to his hankering.
And Dad gives to everyone, including elderly people in the community he befriends. Dad knows no limit to giving. That’s because giving feels like a sugar rush. And giving gives a sense of purpose.
Better still, when we give, we learn skills and develop a greater sense of responsibility. We can make someone’s tough situation a little better and feel the joy each gift makes. We can learn how to reduce our own wants to help others attain their needs. And we may feel inspired to work even harder, motivated by the wish to make others better off.
I sometimes wonder about what my niece spends my gift cards on. Does she buy baby diapers, baby food, and makeup? Did she buy that baby highchair and blanket she spoke about? I don’t know what she buys, and I don’t dare ask. But I see her social media posts where she’s wearing ragged, second-hand clothes, and my heart goes out to her.
Out in the world, there is someone without any food to eat, faced with homelessness. If we find such a person, then we’ve found a beautiful reason to give.
Giving feels wonderful for everyone: the giver and the receiver. So, the next time you feel bad, find someone in a worse state than you, and proceed to help them out. After all, giving feels better than double-iced chocolate cake topped with triple-glazed cinnamon buns on a cloud of marshmallows. And when a gift is given with love, there’s no better way to bond.