In these times of fast cars and faster jobs, a sense of forlornly meandering through a mindless existence often sets in. Leisure, pleasure and privilege often find themselves helpless against this undercurrent. One thing, done in however small a quantity, that always warms the spirit and lifts it, is the act of giving. Those who feed the hungry or donate to charity, offering financial aid or time and resources, will vouch for the exhilaration they feel upon making worthy contributions. Giving undoubtedly makes one an extraordinary individual — in their own eyes as well as in the eyes of others.
One might scoff at the surety with which the statement has been articulated, but there are numerous reasons why it stands true. Firstly, one’s self-image is of paramount importance. Ironic though it is, giving enhances one’s self-worth because the act puts others before oneself. In a world that believes that individuals are wired to be selfish, doing something truly selfless makes one remarkable indeed. Secondly, with the suffering, wealth disparity and wars that are a common fixture, the smallest measure, be it charity fundraising or sponsoring the education of an underprivileged child, matters in making the world a kinder place.
Charity is also a mutually beneficial relationship for all those involved in the exchange. It helps one connect with individuals who are in a vastly different place in life as compared to themselves. This gives one the power that is rare indeed — one to empathise with one’s fellow beings, rather than just sympathise with them. Empathy — the ability to truly understand the other person by putting oneself in his/her shoes — is a hallmark of a mind that has grown and evolved. It allows one to be humane, instead of just human.
In the age of materialism, giving also helps one manage its stresses and uncertainties by nudging one towards the spiritual. Spiritual wellbeing is as important as material success. Giving, which helps one look beyond oneself to the oneness of the universe, is a spiritual activity that helps individuals love and be at peace with themselves. The greatest minds in the world have all extolled the benefits of charity, and now, scientific research backs these ideas, which go back thousands of years. Giving, in its essence, is a way towards self-realisation.
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