I L-O-V-E the post that went around Facebook with the picture of a school hallway full of balloons. I don’t know where the story originated. I definitely can’t claim it. Some genius teacher found an experiential way for kids to understand what happens when you help someone else. Here’s the post that I shared from a friend’s share.
This illustration gives relevance to common phrases like: to give is to receive…..do unto others….put out into the world what you want to receive from the world, etc. This story and those phrases reinforce this same idea that helping others will bring you happiness.
Have you ever experienced that? I am witness to this in action everyday in my work.
I interact with people who have dementia almost daily. People with progressed dementia live their happiness in the moment. If they are happy in real time they are happy. Many of them are not capable of reaching that place on their own. The disease can rob them of memories, independence, the ability to order their day, to complete sentences, and to regulate their emotions. Many people with dementia spend large portions of their time not only confused, but anxious, sad, lonely, frustrated, or disheartened until someone or something else intervenes. By engaging with patience and understanding I can validate their feelings. Once they feel heard I can begin steps to help them reorder their day, complete a task, socialize, finish a purposeful activity, and even relish some memories. In this way, I can give them safety, stability, sympathy, and reminiscence. By all of this we connect. My time and attention affirms to them that they mean something in the world and we begin to share smiles and laughter. In the real time they are happy. When they make that turn and they have found that happiness in the moment, my heart is joyful.
Looking outside ourselves to help another is one of the fastest ways to bring joy to ourselves. This reciprocal joy keeps me volunteering, sharing meals with new Mamas, reaching out to be a listening ear or whatever seems right to give at the time. When I’m helping others it gives me purpose. This provides lasting joy because I’ve done something that mattered.
So if you want lasting joy, I’d recommend finding purpose by helping others find their joy.