I have indoctrinated in my kids the ritual of the three tasks. As a touchstone at the start and end of each day, they consider three essential duties: to learn something new, to help someone else and to have fun.
Expecting that benediction as they exit my car in front of the school, it shapes how they approach their day. They seek new discoveries and valuable lessons. They look out for those in need and other opportunities to make a positive difference. They take responsibility for appreciating experiences that will bring them joy.
The intention to help others takes our perspective away from our own concerns. We begin to see the world from their point of view. We consider their needs and feelings.
Self-care is important. We have to attend to the essentials: a good night’s sleep, a healthy diet and regular exercise. But if our concerns remain only with our personal lives, it can never be deeply meaningful or fulfilling.
We will all die someday. If we are lucky, we will grow old. Ultimately, we will lose all the physical and material things we have sought to gain for ourselves. We take none of this with us when we die.
But we can transcend this fate when we choose to live beyond our little selves. By expanding our circle of concern and caring, we extend ourselves and our spirits. We create greater connections, and we may discover that we can become greater than we had ever imagined by reaching out to others.
A natural outcome of the intention and action of connecting and helping others is the appreciation of how we have been assisted ourselves. Consider all that you know. Who taught you?
You are more than the product of your parents’ genetic heritage, your self-determination and your own hard work. You were formally taught by countless teachers, encouraged by many coaches and nurtured by mentors and family members in the past. Their enduring gifts to you enrich your life, and they live on in you.
What gifts from your soul shall you give freely to others? What part of you will transcend your own life?