Years ago, I remember being in one of the toughest times in my life, driving down the freeway in the middle of the night. I kept asking, “What do I need to do to turn my life around?” Suddenly an insight came to me, accompanied by such intense emotion that I was compelled to pull my car off the road immediately and write down one key phrase in my journal: “The secret to living is giving.”
There’s no richer emotion I know of in life than the sense that who you are as a person, something you’ve said or done, has added to more than just your own life, that somehow it has enhanced life’s experience for someone you care about, or maybe someone you don’t even know. The stories that move me most profoundly are about people who follow the highest spiritual emotion of caring unconditionally and acting for others’ benefit. When I saw the musical Les Miserables, I was deeply moved by the character of Jean Valjean, because he was such a good man who wanted to give so much to others. Each day we should cultivate that sense of contribution by focusing not only on ourselves, but on others as well.
Don’t fall into the trap, though, of trying to contribute to others at your own expense—playing the martyr won’t give you a true sense of contribution. But if you can consistently give to yourself and others on a measurable scale that allows you to know that your life has mattered, you’ll have a sense of connection with people and a sense of pride and self-esteem that no amount of money, accomplishments, fame, or acknowledgment could ever give. A sense of contribution makes all of life worthwhile. Imagine what a better world it would be if all of us cultivated a sense of contribution!
Tony Robbins. “Awaken the Giant Within.”