It’s a fairly recent shift, mostly in the last year I’d say, but I’ve noticed something that I really wanted to think about. People are being better to me and helping me more now than ever before. This is actually a perfect follow-up to my previous post about how treating other people well pays off for you, because I believe that is a large part of the influx of good in my life.
I’ve changed a lot over the last decade of my life, but 2013 has been a time of the most growth and improvement. It should come as no surprise that as I’ve improved myself, my situations and relationships have improved as well. It does sometimes hit me though. One of those “oh, wow” moments came last night as I was brainstorming my writing ideas for today. As I was thinking about what I was going to put into that article, I realized that it was absolutely true: When you treat people better, it works in your favor.
Even when life was at its worst I always had an urge within me to give and help. I counseled other kids at school, I helped people study and did kind things when I could. As I got older I counseled even more people, and did my best to be a giving and kind person. I had my selfish, cold, awful times, but there was always this goodness in me that wanted to be expressed. When I started my journey to be a better person, I really embraced that. As time has gone by I’ve been much more open to giving and helping and I’ve let go of the idea that everything I do needs to have a benefit for me. Interestingly enough, when you stop expecting your actions to offer positive results back to you, you actually get more positive results. Whether you believe it or not, people can tell the difference.
I used to only help people if I thought there was something in it for me. Otherwise, what’s the point, right? Wrong! The point is to be a good person and help others be their best too. You give and help because it’s right, not because there’s a payoff at the end of it. As I said though, it seems the more freely you give to others, the more freely they give to you. As more people see you as someone who’s trustworthy, reliable, honest and giving, they are inclined to be the same way to you. It’s a particularly wonderful kind of magic.
This last year, as I grew more confident as a writer and discovered my true calling, I found myself helping more people than ever before, solely because it seemed like the good thing to do. I helped other writers develop more confidence and skill, I helped people learn the rules that mattered and let go of the ones that didn’t. I gave encouragement every chance I could. I offered praise and support. I didn’t care what I got out of it, if anything. I just did it because it felt good. Honestly, I spent a lot of time reminding myself how much it hurt when no one helped me, when people were unkind and dismissive to me, and that made me want to be better. Remembering that pain made me want to help as many people as I could, no matter how little or how much I could do, so they wouldn’t have to feel that way.
What I didn’t expect is that people would send that goodness back to me. I wasn’t expecting it or thinking about it, and yet it came. People supported me as I grew in my writing and personal development. I got so much wonderful feedback, it built my confidence and self-worth to a whole new level. People helped me too. I was given advice, tips, ideas, encouragement and just all sorts of things. I got feedback on my behavior too. People told me how I radiated this sense of calm and reason, how I made others happy and had such powerful impact on people’s lives. People trusted me and looked to me to guide them. I was, without even trying, radiating this aura of goodness that just made people want to be good to me and help me. The fact that I always show gratitude to people helps too. Everyone likes to feel appreciated for what they do, and it maintains a healthy relationship of respect and giving.
You see, that’s why I tell people to be their best selves. Do good, be good, and do it just because it’s right. When you stop striving to get something, you actually get more. When you do things because they’re right and good and not out of some selfish desire to get something, you get more than you even hoped for. And that cycle that gets created, the one where you give freely and others give freely to you, it spreads. People see or hear of it, and they start doing it too. It’s slow at first, but I’ve seen it grow and build among people. Groups of people who were all looking out for #1 can become a team filled with mutual respect and sharing. It’s a beautiful ripple.
I am extremely grateful to all the people who have been good to me and helped me over the last year. Even if I could remember all the names, there wouldn’t be enough space to thank them all. Many of them probably don’t even realize that they did anything for me, and that’s okay. I offer my gratitude and love to all of them. As for everyone else out there, be a better person. Give and be kind and don’t worry about what you get out of it. Trust me, it comes back to you, and it’s wonderful when you realize that it’s happening.