Ask Andrew W.K.: "I'm Contemplating Suicide"
|Photo by Man Sumami|
Some might say that helping other people just to make yourself feel good is selfish and not true generosity. But I think the fact that it benefits you is exactly the point. We are all bound together. No matter how much we like to think of ourselves as unrelated and apart from others and their plight, we are, in fact, all in the same boat. God or evolution or both have specifically wired our brains to feel pleasure when we help other people. Our health responds positively to acts of human kindness, whether we perform them or receive them. This reward is meant to be tangible. It's supposed to feel good to do good for others -- we're then motivated to do even more good. To be able to relate to someone else whom you never met before is to be able to relate more deeply to yourself. We're meant to see ourselves reflected in other people -- people we would never imagine we'd have anything in common with. But we all share one thing in common: we're human beings, trying to make the best of this intense thing called life.
So maybe it's time to turn away from yourself and towards your neighbor. Help people in need. It doesn't have to be traditional charity -- it can be anything that shows your fellow man that someone's there and someone cares. Participate in society to make it a more humane and compassionate place for everyone, including you. You'll be astounded at how powerful it feels to engage in "others-help" instead of just "self-help."
The experience of connecting with someone through shared understanding can put you in direct contact with the miracle of life. It's truly the sensation of love -- not just an idea or an emotion -- but the very feeling and expression of what it is to be a person alongside another person. It is the feeling of God. And if you're someone who doesn't believe in God as an entity, you can experience God as this unbelievably simple yet infinite thing called "love." God is love. And you don't have to be religious to still think of God as just the word that best describes that indescribable and infinite feeling of total love. Love is the most fundamental part of being a living, breathing, and caring person. Give your love to the world and you'll get more purpose and meaning back in your life than you ever imagined possible.
[Ed. note: With the goal of helping people in distress and preventing suicide, Samaritans free, confidential, 24-hour emotional support and crisis response hotline service is available on an immediate and ongoing basis to help people who are dealing with every kind of problem, illness, trauma or loss as they try to cope with their difficulties. More info here. They can be reached at 212.673.3000.]