Tuesday, 12 May 2020

It’s All About You - No it’s Not

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Look after number one

Buy this because you’re worth it

You are the best

There is a trend amongst humankind, and the opening phrases in this post will indicate that it is a trend of selfishness. The ‘me first’ attitude is prevalent and is displayed in everyday life, perhaps more so when from behind the steering wheel of a car!

Although this selfishness is promoted as a way to bring happiness and benefit oneself, the reality is far different. Whilst getting ahead of the game, being first in the queue, getting in front of the car ahead might be appealing, the brief burst of joy is simply an adrenaline rush. It has no real benefit to the person or the human race.

What makes people happy? 

If you consider what makes people really happy you will see that it involves considering others. Those who volunteer and give their time in the service of others will agree with this. As the ‘good book’ says, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.” 

There is something built into each of us that when we tap into this brings us pleasure and deeper satisfaction and that is giving. Not just giving in a financial way, but giving of ourselves. Our time, energy and love are amongst the greatest  gifts we can give, and are not only more appreciated by the recipients but develop in the giver a better feeling. They also too are noticed by others and a good example set for them to follow.

Compare this to the ‘look after number one’ lifestyle. These people give nothing to others or society unless they are doing something for purely selfish motives, “I will do this if ..... “. Their attitude is often the cause of road accidents resulting in damage, injury and death, What a waste of life that is! You could change ‘look after number one’ to ‘how be a lonely old fool’.

There has been a great deal of research into comparing those who practice selfishness and those who are generous with their time and assets. Here are 4 key areas that I would like to share with you.


Helping others can give us self-esteem by having a role in society beyond just what we have to do in daily life. For some types of occupations, for example carers, this can already be a valuable benefit in addition to that in other areas of life. My experience tells me that people who are carers are more likely to be caring outside of their professional role, it’s part of their personality.

Many of us though have jobs that don’t have that kind of direct benefit to others. Doing something outside of work that can have an impact on someone in a similar way can help us see that we have more value than pushing buttons on a machine all day. We can do this through volunteering our time in the service of others.

Mental Health

Research shows that volunteers are less likely to suffer from depression, this of course would tie in with self-esteem and seeing in ourselves a value. Rather than sit around and feeling down, doing something for others can keep our minds occupied in a meaningful way.

It has been shown that those coping with grief can be helped by engaging in activities that help others. The actions of giving their time and energies has helped many to overcome their grief much sooner than those who don’t.

Physical Health

If we have good metal health this can lead to better physical health. Depression and other mental health issues can increase the risk of heart attacks. Those who are depressed will often reduce their physical movement too adding to the problems they have. Of course, if our volunteering means we get out more this can mean we engage in physical activity as part of the help we give.

Apparently in one study, middle-aged volunteers appear to have less belly fat, better cholesterol levels and lower blood sugar, compared with non-volunteers. That sounds better than a weekly trip to the slimming club!

Longer Life

By staying in better shape through helping others we can expect to live a longer life. Have you noticed that army of older volunteers in your community? They have a sense of purpose and also a network of friends which can help prevent loneliness.

There are many more reasons why a generous lifestyle is better for us then a selfish one and maybe one day I will cover these in another post. In the meantime, please let me know what you think by leaving a comment in the box below. 

Monday, 4 May 2020

How? - Why is it a Good Question?

I KEEP six honest serving-men
 (They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When 
 And How and Where and Who. 

Rudyard Kipling

These verses by Kipling are well known. He used them to help him write. When answering these questions, he would know if his stories made sense to the reader. For any writer or speaker adopting the method of asking these questions will help you sensibly put across your story. 

For me, these questions can also become useful in our daily lives. The question beginning with 'why' produces reasons. Why should I do this? Why will that help me? Having a reason to do something can be helpful and indeed crucial in life. The reason for action will be part of our motivation for accomplishing a task or project. 

I have noticed that some become too interested in the 'why' and fail to ask or focus on 'how'. Let me illustrate that with the following questions. 


Let's ask the question. Why should I be kind? Of course, this will produce some good reasons for why we should. However, the vital question that we will need the answer to is, How can I be kind? It is ultimately the 'how' that will provide us with the knowledge and methods to succeed. 

Another example would be to ask someone who has lost weight why instead of how. Should we ask 'why', it would produce reasons personal to them and might not apply to ourselves? On the other hand, if we ask how they lost weight, that is something that we might be able to replicate and become healthier too. 

Quite some time ago, a multi-millionaire said that people often asked him, why did he become so wealthy. He made it very clear that what they should have asked is, "How did you become wealthy?" Asking why would not benefit the questioners but for sure the "how' certainly would. 

From these examples alone, I hope that you can see the value in asking how more often that why. We will learn much more when we ask how and listen to the answers.

I would love to hear from you, so please do a leave a comment below.