Whether we want to befriend the poor and weak, alleviate suffering, right wrongs, defend truth, strengthen the rising generation, or achieve security and happiness at home, the first actions need to come from us.
We are surrounded by needy individuals. Sometimes it can be difficult identifying who, and in what ways, we can help. Yet, with a little practice and a lot of patience, we can make ourselves the tools in bringing assistance and love to those who need it most.
1. Befriending the poor and the weak
. While they are included, the poor and weak do not constitute only those who are financially destitute or physically frail. Many poor and weak are suffering mentally, emotionally, and spiritually; they all need our help.
The difficulty lies in pinpointing who those needy individuals are. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by instigating and maintaining friendships. People feel more comfortable accepting help from someone they know and trust. In order to give help in the future, we need to be a friend now.
This might mean leaving our comfort zones to be friends with someone with whom we may not normally associate. It can also mean being the one to instigate a friendship, and being willing to enlarge our current circle of friends. The possible uncomfortable moments of new friendships is far outweighed by the blessings found in being in positions to help our friends in the future.
2. Alleviating suffering
. Those who are suffering usually need help sooner, rather than later. When we see someone who is suffering, the casual, “let me know if I can do something to help” is not effective. Prompt, definitive actions are usually needed in order to aid such suffering individuals.
In order to help effectively, it is important to first identify specific needs and corresponding actions that could be taken. Depending on the circumstances, we can either go to the sufferers with our offer of specific help, or forge ahead and take the needed actions ourselves.
If we are still unsure how to help, it can be beneficial to approach those closest to the sufferer and ask for advice. If that approach is unavailable, an honest conversation with the needy individual, letting them know of our sincere desire to lend aid, can be a valuable experience.
3. Righting wrongs
. No one escapes life without being wronged. Consequently, very few will leave earth without, intentionally or unintentionally, hurting others by their mistakes. In order to right wrongs we have either received or given, we must experience repentance and forgiveness.
If we have wronged someone we need to ask their forgiveness. Likewise, while it would be nice if everyone who has wronged us would apologize, such occurrences will most likely not happen. Regardless, we do not need to hang on to bitterness and vengeful feelings. It is only by letting go of past hurts that we are able to open our hearts toward the healing balm found in forgiveness.
4. Defending truth
. Defending who and what we know to be true can be scary and intimidating at times. However, when we take a stand for truth, we are in turn being true to ourselves. Just as no one enjoys maintaining relationships with liars, we can only find inner peace when we are true to ourselves and those around us.
Defense of the truth may initially cause hurt feelings. Ultimately, as we stand by what we know to be true with dignity and grace, we will gain an inner respect. Often an unanticipated result of defending truth is finding friendships with others with similar ideals who respect our actions.
5. Strengthening the rising generation
. It is frequently popular to disparage the youth. However, such comments do not help teenagers who face immense pressures and temptations in the world today. Yes, teenagers can try our patience. But it is likely that, during our teenage years, we tested the patience of the adults around us as well.
Rather than focusing on potential negative aspects of teenagers, it is important that we recognize and point out their strengths. By showing the rising generation our love, compassion, and confidence we will put ourselves in their paths as trusted adults who can help them during trying times.
6. Achieving happiness and security at home
. Family is the basic building block of society. However, some days maintaining any semblance of order, let alone happiness and security, can seem pretty impossible. Achievement of this lofty goal is possible when we make a conscious effort to put our family foremost in our lives.
Putting family first can mean helping them understand home is a place where they can be their true selves, without fear of embarrassment or harassment. Once this secure foundation is set, happiness is easier to achieve. In this endeavor, family time is paramount. However, this does not necessitate expensive vacations or lavish presents. Usually it is the little things, such as a walk together, a hidden love note, or a spontaneous hug that help sponsor the seedlings of happiness in a family.
The common ingredient found in each of the preceding categories is us. Our love and desire to help others necessitates our actions in doing so. As we put forth needed efforts to bring more love and peace to our communities we will find ourselves the recipients of much joy: The joy of helping those in need.