In a highly shared op-ed in the New York Times last week, the Dalai Lama suggested that much of our anxiety and frustration as a culture and individually relates to our feeling that we are not making a great enough contribution to our fellow men and women. We all need to be needed and we are lacking that in our current cultural milieu.
He cites research that shows that older people who don’t feel they are giving back to society are 3 times more likely to die that those who do feel like they are benefiting others.
His suggestion on how to remedy this, however, is what makes his point so powerful. He and his co-author, Arthur Brooks, suggest that each of us can start off our day asking what we can do to “appreciate the gifts that others offer me.” Instead of thinking of what we can give, look for ways to help others share their gifts. By encouraging our friends and colleagues to express their greatest strengths, we are providing the gift of opportunity that then affirms their usefulness.
With the election ending, we all may want to run into our caves to have some time off to recover and recharge.
Don’t stay there for too long, however. There is more work to be done to make our world safer and more compassionate and there are plenty of people out there who want to help.
© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016