What do you do when you’ve achieved your goals? When you’ve had an impact on the world, earned your millions and bought your right to relax and do whatever you want?
You’d think this would be the perfect situation to find yourself in and yet it can leave us feeling empty and directionless. It’s no surprise that many people suddenly appear to become much older as soon as they retire.
Well, if you look to examples in our culture of people who have seemingly achieved it all, there appears to be one common answer: help others.
Whether you’re Bono or you’re Bill Gates, turning yourself to philanthropic activities appears to be the common option. Even Arnie dedicates his later years to public service.
So, what is it about helping others that is so tempting to the rich and famous?
The answer is that it creates meaning. Once you’ve helped yourself, once you’ve achieved everything, helping others creates a new challenge and a new way to get that same sense of satisfaction.
Of course, you can get this same reward before you’ve reached that point yourself but when you’re secure in your own financial and health situation, you are in a better situation to help those around you.
As the saying goes, you need to attach your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else around you.
More Ways Helping Others Can Create Meaning
But that said, even before you reach that point, helping others can bring immense meaning to your life.
Apart from anything else, this is one way that you can affect others around you and leave something behind after you go.
For many of us, it’s sharing experiences and having some lasting impact that makes us feel meaningful. If you do something and it has no impact on anyone, then you might come to the conclusion it was pointless.
But to leave something behind or to touch another life, that makes you almost immortal. Help someone else and they might go on to help two more people. Or three. Or a million.
And as it would happen, we are also biologically hardwired to seek out this helping behavior. Studies show that helping others releases a huge rush of endorphins. Today, we call this the ‘helper’s high’.
So donate to charity, do someone a favor or just treat your friends to a meal out. It feels amazing.