Question: It’s said that when you help others, you’re actually helping yourself. Can you explain why that’s true?
Answer: We share an uncommon possibility as human beings, but the uncommon possibility that we share comes from the fact that we all share common heartaches. I don’t care where you go in the world, you’ll find men and women in one way or another whose dreams have been broken, who’ve lost something that they love or someone they love, who have a regret or a disappointment that they’re unable to shake free from, and as a rule, when we meet people with problems, the first thing that we tend to do is keep them from ourselves because we think: “I already have enough pain.”
But when we can start to understand,in the truest sense of the word, that this man or this woman is in fact a celestial brother or sister – not in some religious or hokey sense but in the sense that their needs and our needs are the same needs — and if we can help another human being, if we can hear, if we can understand, if we can bring any light whatsoever into the heart or mind of another individual, we do so because we have found it first in ourselves. And the extent to which we are capable (if capable, and only if asked) of adding some light to the life of another human being, we have first found that light in ourselves, and we have shared a light that is in common. In that common sharing of a new understanding is an uncommon possibility that we have as human beings.
Life is trying to reach us and teach us, through our experience of it, that we need new and true answers. These higher answers serve as a special kind of personal shelter that effortlessly keeps out what is harmful and keeps in what is healthy and life-giving.
Here is one example of how these higher answers can work for you. In reality, you cannot separate your answers from your actions and your actions from their results. Just as warmth must follow sunlight, so must a higher, happier life follow when inner light is allowed to flourish.
Your New Answer: Forgiveness is the personal understanding that except for circumstance there is no real difference between you and your offender.
Your New Action: In spite of all the inner screams to the contrary, dare to treat your trespasser as you would want to be treated.
Your New Result: When you stop punishing others for their weakness, you will stop punishing yourself for yours.