Thinking and caring for others in need

This has been a tense week for most of us. Regardless of who you voted for, I think we can agree that the election season has been exhausting, draining, and stressful, and that we’d like to move forward.

One way we can move forward is by remembering that we each have the power to help heal our own communities and care for our friends, neighbors, families and selves.

Often, we feel like we barely have enough energy to take care of our own responsibilities and families. We see the guy begging for change outside Starbucks on our morning coffee run and turn away rather than make eye contact, not because we don’t care but because it feels like too much and we think “what can I do anyway?” We read an article about kids starving in India and feel a twinge of sadness, but console ourselves that “it’s not my problem.”

Some of that is true, of course. It’s not the job of any one person to save the world. But we also each have a great deal of power to bring kindness and love and help to the people around us. In times of great uncertainty and change, we have a special opportunity to use that power.

Opening ourselves up to care for other members of our communities, even strangers, might feel overwhelming. But it actually gives us a tremendous sense of purpose and wellness.

As a people, we’re at our best when we’re helping each other out. A weekend on the couch binging Netflix might feel appealing, but how do we feel afterwards? Not great, right? In contrast, taking actions to help those around us might feel intimidating at first, but, like a trip to the gym, feels good when we actually jump in. 

Helping others is also a powerful way to shift our inner experience. Simply, the more time we spend thinking about what we can do to benefit others, the less time we have to worry about our own problems and our own frustrations. We’re putting our minds to fruitful work, rather than letting them stew in stress.

As we open our minds and our hearts to the people around us, we also start to develop a greater sense of community. We start to see even the people on the street not as faceless strangers but as beings much like ourselves. We begin to feel a sense of being a part of something greater than ourselves. Quite a wonderful feeling in such a divided time!

Helping others is simple, not complicated. A good place to start is just asking, “How can I help?”

Whether it’s volunteering at your church or synagogue, getting involved in your neighborhood association, donating to a food bank or just making a point of offering a smile or a nod to passerby, there are as many different ways to help as there are people in search of them. See what opportunities exist in your own life — if you look for them, they’re always there. Explore how you can best use your talents and your skills to bring kindness and joy into the world. Find a way that works for you! We each have so much power if we’re just willing to use it. 

The more we let that power out, the better we feel, and the more we begin to flourish. All of us can bring love and kindness and hope to our own lives and our communities.