As social creatures we often find purpose in life when we help to bring joy to others. In fact great satisfaction can be gained from the simple act of generously giving and even greater peace found when it is unconditional. Many people find that the love they feel through raising children, having pets or forging strong friendships, is unparalleled by any selfish gratification.
Isolating ourselves from others often leads to introspection and self-critical thoughts. By establishing a sense of connection with others we are able to externalise our problems, getting them out of our head. Further to this, listening to others takes the focus off the self, opening our awareness up beyond our own problems and concerns.
When the focus is consistently removed from the self to concern for others, feelings of esteem and self worth are greatly improved. In fact the paradox is that by weakening the ego the self begins to flourish. By letting go of any kind of fixed personal identity we are more able to adapt to situations and mix with people from all walks of life. We become more connected with the world as we stop struggling within ourselves and develop peaceful relationships with everyone we come into contact with.
Of course we must first look after ourselves if we are to be any good at helping others. We would be of no use if we gave all our money to charity and had nothing left to feed and clothe ourselves. And it can obviously be beneficial if we are successful and achieve great things if it is for the benefit of others. However, care must be taken to avoid any satisfaction of success developing into pride or feelings of superiority, as the struggle to maintain this runs contrary to the initial intention and results in disharmony.
While acts of unconditional generosity and kindness are paramount to our own happiness, perhaps the best way we can help others the most is to live by example. This way we demonstrate how they too can find inner peace when they let go of selfish desire and open up to others.