Monday, February 22, 2016

Charity and Happiness

Common Theme: charity
1: “The one single use of things which we call our own is that they might be his who hath need of them.”
Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown's Schooldays
2: “Don't judge without having heard both sides. Even persons who think themselves virtuous very easily forget this elementary rule of prudence.”
St. Josemaría Escrivá, The Way of The Cross
3: “Truly it is a blessed thing to love on earth as we hope to love in Heaven, and to begin that friendship here which is to endure for ever there.”
St. Francis de Sales
4: “Frequently give up some of your property by giving it with a generous heart to the poor ... It is true that God will repay us not only in the next world but even in this.”
St. Francis de Sales
5: “The purpose of any charity is simply to turn people's mirrors into windows. An outward view of the world's needs are vast in comparison to an inward one.”
Shannon L. Alder, 300 Questions to Ask Your Parents Before It's Too Late
Throughout history mankind has faced many adversities, from war to disease to natural disasters. The concept of giving back to society at a critical time such as these may seem counter-intuitive to survival. When our situation becomes dire, we often look to support ourselves no matter what the cost, even if it may compromise the wellbeing of the people around us.

The idea of charity is most powerful when we are weakest or most vulnerable. Our problems as a whole greatly exceeds each individual's difficulties. Without supporting those around us, we compromise indirectly to our own wellness. Focusing only on our own desires breeds for ignorance and jealousy. Generosity helps the community grow, but more importantly teaches us to be better people and to set an example for others to be inspired from.

It has been said that the purpose of any charity is to turn people's mirrors into windows, and that we need to comprehend that the world around us has far greater needs and problems to solve than our own. Only once we help each other through adversities, can we begin to help ourselves.

The discovery of Helicobacter pylori stemmed from an incredible feat of risk-taking. Barry Marshall, the researcher involved in the discovery and ultimately the treatment of H. pylori compromised his own health for the betterment of patients suffering from the disease. We have to follow Barry's example - not necessarily to drink a broth infested with bacteria, but rather to see the bigger picture, and realise that by helping others, we may inadvertently help ourselves, as evident by Marshall and Dr Robin Warren awarded the Nobel Prize.

In Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" we see a fictional, but no less inspiring example of altruism and charity. The scene depicted is one where a city called Gotham has fallen under the social structures that once made it great. In order to defeat the social corruption that plagues the city where those in authority and power cripple the citizens of Gotham, Bruce Wayne takes it upon himself as inspired by his father's ideals to become the Batman (or Dark Knight) - a symbol of hope in a time of desperation and injustice. In doing so, he chooses to sacrifice his public identity in order to confuse the public that he is indeed the Batman by leading a double life. Little could be a more powerful display of altruism.


Common Theme: happiness
1: “A life of happiness, peace, and love is all within our grasp.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
2: “Love is too precious to be ashamed of.”
Laurell K. Hamilton, A Stroke of Midnight
3: “The process of discovering your fearless self is of refinement, not adding. The best way to reconnect with your freedom is to look at the rules you have that govern your freedom.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
4: “I'm choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I'm making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
5: “I'd far rather be happy than right any day.”
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Happiness is arguably one of the most powerful emotions humans have ever experienced, yet its sources can vary to great extents. For some, love brings happiness. Others view freedom as their happiness. Then there are those who view generosity and kindness as their source of happiness.

When we talk about happiness, we often elaborate more on what makes us happy, instead of how we can generate happiness in our community. It makes me happy knowing that I've contributed in some (small) way to the happiness of someone else.

Whether that be through improving their health to a heart-to-heart conversation to writing music that speaks to them or even a silly joke, I believe it is important to realise that happiness comes in many forms depending on the individual and situation.

Working in a busy community pharmacy with a great team has provided me with the motivation to improve my skills from a medical or clinical perspective, but also from a social or charismatic angle which only helps me help others find happiness, wherever they stand in life.

Elizabeth Gilbert once said: "I'm choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I'm making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises". I can absolutely identify with Elizabeth here. One of the most powerful quotes I've ever heard is this - it's not who you are on the inside, but what you do that defines you.

We make an active decision to be happy many a time. The world is not all sunshine and roses. It will beat us down and keep us there if we let it. But we can be stronger, we can be more. Despite the odds that may be stacked against us, choosing to be happy is ultimately the first step to being truly happy. We can't let suffering define us.

My personal take? Happiness is knowing that I've inspired someone to do something that they would not have otherwise done to make their life a better one.

Some people want to change the world. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. The only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they push the human race forward. Some may even call them crazy. But the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.

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