I’ve heard it a hundred times from different people…”You gotta look out for number one.” Sure, you have to take care of yourself. No one would argue that. Even on an airplane, a parent is told to fasten their own oxygen mask before they fasten their child’s. And this is for good reason. You can’t be any good to others, unless you take care of yourself.
But here is where the lines get blurred. Though you need to look out for “number one”, you can’t only look out for “number one.” And, it saddens me to say, that many people are much more concerned for themselves than anyone else. Many today are becoming self-absorbed, believing no one can tell them what to do, and their needs are top priority.
But what they are failing to see is that happiness cannot be found in self-absorption and only looking out for “number one.” Don’t believe me? Check out the Chopsticks story…
A woman who had worked all her life to bring about good was granted one wish: “Before I die let me visit both Hell and Heaven.” Her wish was granted.
She was whisked off to a great banqueting hall. The tables were piled high with delicious food and drink. Around the tables sat miserable, starving people as wretched as could be. “Why are they like this?” she asked the angel who accompanied her. “Look at their arms,” the angel replied. She looked and saw that attached to the people’s arms were long chopsticks secured above the elbow. Unable to bend their elbows, the people aimed the chopsticks at the food, missed every time and sat hungry, frustrated and miserable. “Indeed this is Hell! Take me away from here!”
She was then whisked off to Heaven. Again she found herself in a great banqueting hall with tables piled high. Around the tables sat people laughing, contented, joyful. “No chopsticks I suppose,” she said. “Oh yes there are. Look – just as in Hell they are long and attached above the elbow but look… here people have learnt to feed one another”.
I was talking with a good friend, the other day, via Zoom. He was telling me about his daughter-n-law who has many medical problems due to a rare form of cancer, just lost her mother this year, and now her father is in the hospital, just diagnosed with leukemia. We both asked how much one person could take? This lady is obviously a strong woman, so I suggested that in order to find happiness in her life, she could share her experiences with others, in the form of a blog or book.
Many people who have experienced hardships find happiness in helping others and tend to feel better when they can make someone else’s life better. So, thinking of others, and putting their needs before our own, can make our lives happier.
It’s not until we care for others, and think of others, that we can begin to experience true happiness. No, I’m not saying to ignore yourself and put everyone else’s needs above your own. You have to take care of yourself, but don’t do it to the point where you become self-absorbed and become the center of the universe. Try to think of others and their needs. See what you can do to help them. When we help others with their problems, our problems don’t seem so big anymore, and we gain the joy from having helped someone else. It’s a win-win scenario!!!
COVID has provided us the opportunity to think of others. Everyone doesn’t agree on how bad this virus really is, but we need to agree that thinking of others first is how we find true happiness. In that spirit, wear your mask, keep others safe. COVID is bigger than any one of us, but together, thinking of others, we can come out of this stronger and happier.