helpfulness 2    

Quotes for
the Journey:


Down in their hearts, wise people
know this truth:  the only way to
help yourself is to help others.

Elbert Hubbard

You have not lived a perfect day, even though you have earned your money,  unless you have done something for someone who will never be able to repay you.       -Ruth Smeltzer

The healthy and strong individual is the one who asks for help when he or she needs it, whether one's got an abscess on one's knee, or in one's soul.      -Rona Barrett

The ego is often deeply involved in the desire to help others.  If you do not want your ego to be involved in this way, do not be available for others unless you really want to be available.  Do not feel that you should be available.  Don't sacrifice yourself in any way.  Don't go against your true feelings.  Don't carry the cross for anyone else.  Make sure that there's no sense that helping others makes you a better person or that it will gain you easy access into Heaven.  Don't be a martyr.       -Leonard Jacobson

By helping yourself, you are helping humankind.  By helping humankind, you are helping yourself.  That's the law of all spiritual progress.       -Christopher Isherwood


It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that you cannot sincerely try to help another without helping yourself.       -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The greatest happiness in the world is to make others happy.       -Luther Burbank

When one has reverence for life, one will never do anything to harm, hinder, or destroy life.  Instead one bends every effort to help life to fulfill its highest destiny. One strives to maintain, enhance, and assist life to make the most of itself.        -Wilferd A. Peterson

In my career, I have learned that giving of your services for free gives you a good return on your investment, not just financially but morally.  It supplements my personal integrity.       -Stevie Wonder

A helping word to one in trouble is often like a switch on a railroad track . . . an inch between wreck and smooth, rolling prosperity.       -Henry Ward Beecher
The best cure for worry, depression, melancholy, brooding, is to go deliberately forth and try to lift with one's sympathy the gloom of somebody else.        -Arnold Bennett

When I pray, I never pray for myself, always for others, or else I hold a silly, naive, or deadly serious dialogue with what is deepest inside me, which for the sake of convenience I call God. Praying to God for something for yourself strikes me as being too childish for words. To pray for another's well-being is something I find childish as well; one should only pray that another should have enough strength to shoulder his burden.  If you do that, you lend him some of your own strength.       -Etty Hillesum


They might not need me; but they might.
I'll let my head be just in sight;
A smile as small as mine might be
Precisely their necessity.

-Emily Dickinson
The greatest comfort of my old age, and that which gives me the highest satisfaction, is the pleasing remembrance of the many benefits and friendly offices I have done to others.        -Cato
We who lived in concentration camps can remember the people who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.  They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a person but one thing:  the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.       -Viktor Frankl

Long-range studies imply that doing something with other people, especially something for them, is the most powerful of all stimuli to longevity and health.       -Jon Poppy


Open your eyes and look for a human being, or some work devoted to human welfare, which needs from someone a little time or friendliness, a little sympathy, or sociability, or labor.  There may be a solitary or an embittered fellowman, an invalid, or an inefficient person to whom you can be something. Perhaps it is an old person or a child.  Or some good work needs volunteers who can offer a free evening, or run errands.  Who can enumerate the many ways in which that costly piece of working capital, a human being, can be employed?  More of him is wanted everywhere!  Search, then, for some investment for your humanity, and do not be frightened away if you have to wait, or to be taken on trial.  And be prepared for disappointments.  But in any case, do not be without some secondary work in which you can give yourself as a human to other humans.  It is marked out for you, if you only truly will to have it.        -Albert Schweitzer


The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.
-Albert Schweitzer


Die when I may, I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.        -Abraham Lincoln


A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.       -Albert Einstein

The human being who lives only for him or herself finally reaps nothing but unhappiness.  Selfishness corrodes. Unselfishness ennobles, satisfies.  Don't put off the joy derivable from doing helpful, kindly things for others.
-B.C. Forbes
People who won't help others in trouble "because they got into trouble through their own fault" would probably not throw a lifeline to a drowning person until they learned whether that person fell in through his or her own fault or not.        - Sydney J. Harris
If a friend is in trouble, don't annoy him or her by asking if there is anything you can do.  Think up something appropriate and do it.        -Edgar Watson Howe

helpfulness 2   

Time and money spent in helping people to do more for themselves is far better than mere giving.        -Henry  Ford
Often we can help each other most by leaving each other alone; at other times we need the hand-grasp and the word of cheer.        -Elbert Hubbard
I know some good marriages--marriages where both people are just trying to get through their days by helping each other, being good to each other.        -Erica Jong
The truest help we can render afflicted people is not to take their burdens from them, but to call out their best energy, that they may be able to bear the burden.        -Phillips Brooks
Even if it's a little thing, do something for those who have need of help, something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.        -Albert Schweitzer
The service we render others is the rent we pay for our room on earth.        -Wilfred Grenfell
In the time we have it is surely our duty to do all the good we can to all the people we can in all the ways we can.        -William Barclay
To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand head-bowings in prayer.       -Sa'Di
If we could all hear one another's prayers, God might be relieved of some of his burden.        -Ashleigh Brilliant
Don't ask yourself what the world needs.  Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.       -Howard Thurman
It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no person can sincerely try to help another without helping him or herself.        -Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you help others you will be helped, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in one hundred years, but you will be helped.
-George Gurdjieff
I can't think of a nicer feeling in my life than that I get from having helped someone else.  There's a great deal of satisfaction involved in having given someone a hand when he or she has needed it.  One of the interesting dynamics about helping that I've discovered is that in helping others, I'm helping myself just as much as, if not more than, I'm helping the other person, for I leave the situation feeling good about myself, about my actions, and about the person I've helped.

That's not to say, of course, that I think we should help people just to make ourselves feel better.  That would be ridiculous, and having self-interest as your major motivation would undermine the helpfulness, taking away the sincerity and the joy of helping.  In fact, helping someone else just to help yourself may even take away the feeling of satisfaction.  But this feeling is very real, and sometimes when I'm asked to help, especially if helping someone else is inconvenient, I have to remind myself that yes, there is something in it for me, also.

But I also have to remind myself that it's my obligation to help others.  No, we aren't our brothers' keepers, but yes, we are our brothers' brothers and sisters.  We're all members of the human community, and if we're to become the people we need to become, we have to help others.  If we don't, then we'll watch people steadily shy away from asking for help, and the human community will grow more and more fragmented.  And then where will we be?  I can be selfish and deny help, or I can realize that that's what we're here for:  to help others make their ways through this process we call life, and thus make the world more pleasant for ourselves and our children.  People whom I've helped will be much more likely to help others, and to give to others, and thus I'm contributing to the well being of the world.

Of course, there will always be those who try to abuse help, who will try to get me to do things for them just because they want to shirk their own responsibilities or do something else that's more pleasant.  We have to develop a strong sense of discernment, for there will be times when the best help we can give is a firm "no."  We can't do everything for others, nor should we try.  That's damaging to us, and ironically enough, it's damaging to those we're trying to help.

As an instructor, for example, sometimes the best help I can give is to fail a paper that's handed in to me.  Many of my college students have gone through high school receiving A's for average papers or C's for papers that should have failed, and their instructors haven't helped them out a bit by being so "kind" to them--these students are now in college being given a heavy dose of reality in the form of a harsh kick in the pants.  This kick could have been avoided if their high school teachers had been a bit less "helpful," focusing more on the work at hand than the students' self-esteem or feelings about themselves.  When I get a paper that doesn't meet college standards, the student needs to know this, and I'm not helping by giving a dishonest grade.

People who work with alcoholics and other addictive problems talk often of "hard love," and the concept of helping people by letting them hit bottom.  The co-dependent is a person who allows the behavior to perpetuate itself by "helping" the alcoholic by avoiding conflict.  Which is better--helping someone to reach a point at which they'll change destructive behavior, or allowing them to continue that behavior?

Once again, though, we need discernment--when is hard love appropriate, and when will it be damaging?  There are no easy answers, but I know that since I've shifted my focus from self to helping others every realistic chance I get, I've found a great deal of fulfillment in my life, and I wouldn't trade the tendency of helping others for anything.  Help can be as simple as a compliment or carrying a bag of groceries, and it usually doesn't cost a thing, but we certainly don't see enough of it in the world.

tom walsh



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helpfulness 2    

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