Day 274: The Gift Of Giving

We like to be kind. We enjoy it. Helping another fills us with warm fuzzy feelings. Donating and sharing makes us feel good. I'd like to know: what is it about being selfish that so overwhelms these good feelings we get from sharing and kindness? How have we become so selfish in fact, that we have warped our experiences of sharing to become selfish too? Instead of sharing and giving to help another, we do it only so that we can feel good about ourselves and validate our own opinions about ourselves.

Why, when we all have a natural inclination to give and share, do we instead act to enrich only ourselves and our own interests? We all know on one level or another, that to help and give to each other is to help and give to ourselves. We are all aware that we live together on one planet and that our actions have consequences that can extend across the globe. We are all (well, most of us) taught that our greatest leaders (spiritual or otherwise) practiced kindness, compassion, empathy, determination, steadfastness - so why is it that there are so few of us who live according to these principles today? We know what it means to live "good" lives, to be "good" to each other and that these actions will bring their own rewards - so why don't we do it?

At the end of our lives we would want to know and be satisfied that we did the best we could and endeavored to live in a way that is honourable - not just for ourselves, but for the entire world. We all want the same things: comfort, contentedness, enjoyment, satisfaction and a sense of self trust that can only be derived from acting in a way that is beneficial to the life around us. We all want to live in a world that is free from violence and abuse and yet we are willing to abuse on a daily basis just to survive or to maintain our warped self images. We were not born with the knowledge we now cling to - we were conditioned by the life we were born into. A child born into an English home will not spontaneously be able to speak German - the child must learn it from somewhere. The same applies to the converse: a child will only learn from what he/she is exposed to. If a child is exposed to a certain language enough, then the child will be able to understand it. The more the child practices and speaks it, the more fluent the child becomes. The same principle applies to our inner processes as well: we are exposed to millions of stimulus, we take in as much as possible and will give more attention to some as compared to others. Those stimuli that we give our attention to will then become a part of our internal process. EG: We see a movie that promotes sexuality as being a certain way; we determine that that is the way sexuality must be and that we should conform, so we start to think about it and start to integrate it into ourselves, either as conscious thoughts and actions or as subconscious thoughts and actions.

So we all know on some level that we are the way we are because of the events, places and people in our lives - but why do we place so much value in our self image? We were not even the ones who determined how we would "turn out" in life - we were simply reacting to the specific environments and stimuli to which we were exposed. We were never truly in control of the people we became - does this mean that we are not capable of choosing a new path now?