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The Happiness We Make By Sharing


What really is the meaning and meaningfulness of life?

Are we here to be served or to provide service to others?

Just recently I met a friend who has been absent from work for some months after a serious illness. I paid for our 2 cups of coffee and as we got up to leave she said “You know, I have been out with so many people for coffee since being ill and you have been the only one to offer to pay.” This small £2.40 gesture by me, meant more than I could ever have imagined to her.

Jonathan Sacks in his book ‘To Heal a Fractured World”, tells of Moses Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbi’s of the Middle Ages. He rarely had time to take a meal, such was his service to others. When asked to define the task of a rabbi, he replied, “To redress the grievances of those who are abandoned and alone, to protect the dignity of the poor, and to save the oppressed from the hands of the oppressor.”

Always in debt, he gave most of his money to the poor. Most movingly, in the winter he would leave the door to his wood store unlocked so that the poor could come and take fuel, without the embarrassment of having to ask.

When we are unable to give money we should give time. For many of us it is a most valuable resource and  possibly the hardest to give freely. Most of us are ‘time poor’ and I know that sometimes for me it is a sacrifice giving it up.

Much research has been done on what makes for a happy life. When subjects were asked to choose one factor contributing to happiness, the only one not chosen was financial status. Studies have shown that those who own the most are only as happy as those who have the least, and only half as happy as those who are content with what they have.

A sense of purpose, helping others and altruism have all been shown to provide the giver a more happy, satisfactory life.

Human life comes with responsibility. The path of hedonism, pleasure seeking and materialism will never lead to a fulfulling life. All these bring temporary, fleeting pleasure.

Happiness comes from living for certain values, acting on them, being part of a community, making a difference.

To know that you lifted someone up, spent time with the lonely and oppressed and acted in grace is how we get close to the meaningfulness of life.

These small gestures should be matters of every day life.

“Yet there is one thing I have learned from the people I have met, rich and poor, powerful and powerless, it is that the meaningfulness of life lies not in what you take but in what you give”. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

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