In order to derive the maximum benefit the wise thing is to take care of others. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
I was unable to find the context for this quote, so I will presume that the quote is about the difference, and the conflict, between selfish and selfless.
We all have wants and needs. Sometimes it can be difficult to give something to another when you feel you still have a need. I get it, that is just part of human nature.
This quote asks us to consider helping others. Not to the exclusion of our needs, but to help others when you can. There are plenty of opportunities, if we look for them, and then act on them.
The quote posits that this is the best way to attain ‘maximum benefit.’ I would add that the primary beneficiary is you, although the other person got something out of it as well.
Why is taking care of others important?
We all have times when we cannot handle everything ourselves. It might be because of age, the task at hand (sometimes tied to the prior one), medical condition, or any number of other factors. Sometimes, taking care of someone might be reducing the danger they face.
Taking care can include helping them with their finances, with their health, or with amusements. Can you read a book to someone who can’t read? I would consider that taking care of their needs, wouldn’t you? What else could you do to help someone?
Taking care of others can include volunteer work with local charities. It might be taking some time to visit an old-folks home, or help in a local hospital or clinic. Even if you don’t have training, the simple presence of a smiling face can make a huge difference for someone in need.
Now consider what you are actually doing when you care for others. In doing so, you are fulfilling a basic human need within yourself. You are being helpful, you are being useful, and you are making a difference in the life of another. In caring for another, you are also caring for yourself.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Consider a stalled car in the street. They can probably push it out of the way, but trying to push and steer, and keep track of traffic, that’s getting to be a bit much, even for a healthy, robust, and alert person. Consider how you could help take care of them.
An extra person, even if it’s to direct traffic can be helpful, and be considered taking care of them. If you push, you can reduce the time they are exposed to danger on the road. Or they can steer while you, and hopefully others, push. Again, you are taking care of them, right?
I deliberately went off in a different direction, because changing a diaper for a baby or running to the store for an elderly person seemed far too obvious. I was looking to stretch your idea or definition of caring for someone, and what it might involve.
Now that you have looked around outside yourself, take a moment and consider what care you want, need, or enjoy. Have you ever considered it before, other than just what your gut feelings might have said? How can you ask for help if you don’t know what you want or need?
With that in mind, does it surprise you that most other people have spent no more time at that than you have? They probably won’t be able to give you any hints or ideas. That means you have to guess, and risk offending them.
The obvious way around that challenge is to ask if they could use a hand, or if you can help. It may take a few tries to figure out how to ask them if they need assistance without sounding like an idiot. But if you keep trying, you’ll get the hang of it, eventually.
Now all you have to do is consider how and where you might apply this to your life. I see two basic times when this quote applies: when you have planned to do something, and when you have not. That should be simple enough to remember.
The planned times would be when you intend to do something and go out and do it. Volunteer work usually fits that description. The rest of the time, you just do something because you saw it happen, and decided to do what you could to help them, to care for them or their needs.
It really is that simple, at least in my mind, and in my experience. All you have to do is determine what you are willing to do, and find a way to do it. I have yet to be turned away from a charity because they had too many helpers. That might be a great place to start caring for others.
Just remember the hidden benefit of helping others; in caring for them, you are also caring for yourself.