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A Mental Health Tip for Difficult Times: Help Others
Bottom Line: The Way to Be Happy Is to Help Others
I once spent a day at my local library, trying to learn what the great thinkers and leaders have said about happiness. I discovered that throughout history, wise men and women were giving the same answers to the question about happiness, although they each expressed it in different words.
How can this apply to us and getting through the COVID-19 Pandemic? The advice provided by my four favorites are, I think, worthwhile and timeless guides.
Let’s start with Aristotle. A full 2300 years ago, he recommended thinking of others. “The only true success in life,” he said, “is to find yourself in service to the community.”
Jesus gave us one of the wisest words possible: “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.”
Martin Luther King told his listeners and his followers, “We can all be great because we all can serve.”
My mother, Mary Henderson, wasn’t a famous thinker, and honest, I didn’t read about her in while studying in the Wicomico County Public Library. Nevertheless, I do believe she was a wise person.
She taught her children that acting selfishly in the end made people miserable. They’d never have great friendships and they wouldn’t have a lot of deep, satisfying self-respect. The way she phrased it was, “The givers of the world are happy. The takers of the world are miserable.”
Here’s a wonderful example of how the difference between takers and givers plays out in practice.
A little more than 200 years ago, Emperor Napoleon had more of the world’s goodies than has ever happened before or since. He ruled most of Europe. He had palaces and jewels and women and glamour and status and fame and glory to a degree that is almost inconceivable. This is a man whom you’d think had it all.
Mother Theresa’s life was the opposite. Because of her vow of poverty, her physical possessions consisted of three cotton saris and the sandals on her feet. She ate the same food that the poor ate. She ministered to the poorest of the poor, taking care of the lepers as they died.
Which of these two were happier?
At the end of his days, Napoleon, said that when he looked back on his life, he couldn’t count five happy days.
Mother Theresa, on the other hand, described her life as “a feast of unending joy.”
What was the difference between these two? Everything that Napoleon had, he got by taking. Everything Mother Theresa
had— love, approval, fame—she earned by giving.
How Useful Is This Information? Ok, the idea of giving rather than taking is a bit preachy and it may not be your cup of tea.
However, the information can increase your chances of being happy. What would that be worth to you?
Art Can Heal:
It Takes Us beyond Ourselves
Can art help us deal with the COVID-19 Pandemic?
I bet you already know the answer.
At its best, art causes us to transcend ourselves. By allowing us to connect with works of genius and their creators, art helps us tap into a different and fuller world; it can help expand our consciousness. And it certainly helps take us beyond the grinding uncertainty that besets us as we endure the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, and getting back to reality for a moment, one of the many problems COVID-19 is causing is, the arts industry operates almost exclusively from public spaces. After all, in the past when you went to a museum, I bet that part of the pleasure you got from it was knowing that you were sharing the experience with the people around you. Enjoying art was a communal experience.
Sigh. That experience is at least in the short term one more hole that COVID-19 has torn in our lives.
However, there’s some seriously good news that can help us make the best of this sad situation. Many of the world’s great museums have put their collections on-line.
And even better, they’re now easy to find, courtesy of Google Arts & Culture. Go to https://artsandculture.google.com and you’ll get access to more than 2500 museums and galleries from around the world.
In a single day you can now visit some of the world’s greatest and most inspirational works of art even though the museums containing them are many thousands of miles apart. The Google Arts & Culture’s collection includes the British Museum in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim in New York City, and literally hundreds of additional places where you can gain knowledge about art, history, and science.
If you’ll do a little sleuthing for on-line museums, there are some truly amazing experiences that await you. One of my favorites is a little-known museum in Taiwan that is such high quality that I’d say it’s a first cousin of the Louvre.
The Chimei Museum is in Taiwan, but today you can visit it just by going to: www.chimeimuseum.org. That URL will take you to the website, but it’s in Taiwanese. No problem, just go to the top menu and look for the English word, “Language.” Click that and then go exploring. If you’d like a respite from the oppressive and demoralizing worries of today, this is a good place to go.
How Useful Is This Information? Before the Internet, a billionaire couldhave spent every penny he had and never had access to such a plethora of beauty, insight, fresh ways of looking at the world, and in general, sheer genius. It’s available to you at a click of your mouse. This tip counts as priceless.