“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.”
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Feeling useful feels good — that’s the message of a small experiment that a psychologist named Dr. Martin Seligman once conducted. He gave his students a simple task: Do one pleasurable activity and one philanthropic activity. Pondering the results, Dr. Seligman said, “The afterglow of the pleasurable activity paled in comparison with the effects of the kind action.” This result is easy to embrace: we’ve all experienced that afterglow. Feeling that we’ve helped someone gives us a sense that we matter — that we can use our gifts and generosity to make a difference.
I know a grandmother who spent many hours helping her grandson shape his college essay. She didn’t write it for him, but listened while he told her what he wanted to say and then helped him get it down on paper. What a gift!
Just recently, Jaime, a sharp young woman with a flair for social media, took time from her weekend to meet with me on a snowy Saturday evening to help me brainstorm ways for building a wider readership for karinwritesdangerously. She gave me some great ideas that I plan to put into action. What a gift!
Nancy, a wonderful friend and writing buddy, is also a gifted teacher. Recently, she found a creative and satisfying new way to share her talents: helping a small group of people to use writing as a way of working through challenging life transitions. What a gift!
I like to think of the ideas and resources I share with you here as a form of giving and service: by sharing my love of writing and any resources or ideas I find on getting to the next level, I hope to keep both you and myself motivated so we can find the strength and skill to create new worlds with words.
As writers and publishing professionals we have so much to offer those around us who could use a “pen pal” willing to give a helping hand: students who need guidance in writing essays, friends who need support in crafting resumes or memos, aspiring writers who long to be published but don’t know the ins and outs of submitting, young writers who need encouragement and a self-esteem boost.
As we enter a new year, let’s be alert to ways we can use our gifts to be of service — and create more happiness for ourselves and others. Write on!