15 June 2013

Let us sometimes live—be it only for an hour, and though we must lay all else aside—to make others smile.  The sacrifice is only in appearance; no one finds more pleasure for oneself than the person who knows how, without ostentation, to give him or herself to procure for those around them a moment of forgetfulness and happiness.     -Charles Wagner

Sigmund Freud said that almost all of our actions derive from two motivating factors:  the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.  Most of us seem to pursue pleasure by trying to collect things and experiences of our own.  But what if true pleasure consists of bringing "a moment of forgetfulness and happiness" to the other people in our lives?  If that's the case, then we're probably missing out on a lot of pleasure by keeping our minds and efforts focused on attaining things.

There are people, of course, who make a show of doing things for others.  They want to receive recognition for their efforts, and therefore their pleasure is not in doing good for others, but in being recognized for doing good for others.  But is this true pleasure, or is it something that's very fleeting by nature?  This is why Charles says that doing things for others "without ostentation" is important.

If I can make someone else smile today, then I've done something pretty important.  And when I consider the potential ripple effect--that person or those persons may be in a better mood and treat others better than they would have otherwise--I know that I'm contributing to the positive energy in this world.

It's awesome to think about--by contributing to the positive side of the world, I'm also contributing positive feelings and pleasurable feelings to myself.  It's definitely true that what goes around, comes around, and what I send around always will come back to me, usually magnified strongly.  So what do you say?  How many people will you make smile with a kind word or two on this day in our lives?

from our Daily Meditations, Year Two

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