The world we live in is a chaotic place. With a torrent of bad news and lurking crises saturating the Internet, it is easy to feel both hopeless and helpless. The ever-increasing use of technology and its resulting decline of real human connection only make matters worse, driving many into despair.
Yet there are always a special few individuals who can brighten any day, and even offer a glimmer of hope for humanity. Their heart for kindness and charity is more powerful than any forces that would drag it down. If you are blessed to know such a person, you may be inspired to be more like them. In fact, you can be the light and hope for others; it just takes a process.
1. Understand your own suffering
It is difficult to help others when we are struggling ourselves. With a myriad of attachments and desires most of us are stuck in an endless cycle of pursuit and disappointment that ultimately causes us to lose sight of the big picture.
Preoccupied by our own concerns, we give little thought to others; yet, although their pursuits and desires are different, everyone faces the same problem.
Once we understand that the illusion of endless pursuits is the source of our suffering, we can extract ourselves from the maze, become stable and calm, and help others wholeheartedly.
2. Find your anchor
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Even a pillar of strength needs a safe haven in a storm. When our world seems to be falling to pieces, we seek a cradle of serenity and harmony, a space free of judgment where fear does not exist.
Some find refuge in a particular place in their home, others in nature. Many find relief in the company of family or close friends, or by engaging in a favorite hobby.
While all of these are valid and effective, they may not always be available when we need them. That’s why the most resilient people create their safe space within themselves. Although it sounds intangible, it is nonetheless real.
There is a space in our minds – and hearts – that is free of thoughts and the emotions they provoke. We access it when we realize that many of our thoughts are based on faulty notions, and that our true nature is pure and selfless.
Creating and nurturing such a space requires great spiritual work. Meditation and exercises in mindfulness can help transform negative thought patterns and turn your inner world into an island of tranquility. From within this calm refuge, you will be ready to face whatever life brings your way.
3. Let go of the habit of judging others
Cultivating an altruistic heart requires us to be entirely for others, regardless of who and how they are. Look beyond others’ shortcomings to find reasons for their anger, frustration or resentments. Once we recognize how everyone is suffering, we are better able to forgive their faults.
Train yourself to focus on the good in others, and let go of the idea that they need to meet your standards. As you learn to recognize the beauty in others, you’ll find that your mind becomes calm and your heart generous.
4. Say life-giving words
Words are extremely powerful. They can instantly brighten someone’s day or leave lasting scars. Because the words we say and how we say them inevitably affect those around us, we need to be mindful of what comes out of our mouths.
Someone who is going through a difficult time is often especially sensitive and vulnerable to others’ inconsiderate comments, yet a few thoughtful words can make a world of difference. A heartfelt expression of encouragement or sincere acknowledgement of their efforts can fuel their confidence and spark a change for the better.
5. Be patient
Helping others can consume a great deal of energy, both physical and emotional. When our supportive efforts don’t seem to work, it’s easy to feel discouraged and even want to give up.
When things seem hopeless, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and remember why you wanted to help in the first place. Once the hardship is over, you’ll be proud of yourself, not only for enduring, but for brightening someone’s world.
6. Perceive and radiate joy
In your quest to kindle a ray of light and radiate it, it helps to regard others as mirrors – reflecting our own trials and errors. You will soon see that many of the problems we worry about are not as insurmountable as they may seem.
Such understanding is accompanied by a sense of freedom and deep contentment that is unaffected by anything external. It is an eternal joy that comes from within and shines brightness and warmth on those around us.
Each of us has the power to become one of those altruistic and resilient people, whose very existence brings light to the world. It just requires a process.