From Tuesdays With Morrie, by Mitch Albom (Chapter: The Eighth Tuesday)
‘We’ve got a form of brainwashing going on in our country. Do you know how they brainwash people? They repeat something over and over. And that’s what we do in this country. Owning things is good. More money is good. More property is good. More commercialism is good. More is good. More is good. We repeat it – and have it repeated to us – over and over until nobody bothers to even think otherwise. The average person is so fogged up by all this, he has no perspective on what’s really important anymore.
Wherever I went in my life, I met people wanting to gobble up something new. Gobble up a new car. Gobble up a new piece of property. Gobble up the latest toy. And then they wanted to tell you about it, “Guess what I go? Guess what I got?”
You know how I always interpreted that? These were people so hungry for love that they were accepting substitutes. They were embracing material things and expecting a sort of hug back. But it never works. You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship.
Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness. I can tell you, as I’m sitting here dying, when you most need it, neither money nor power will give you the feeling you’re looking for, no matter how much of them you have.
….The truth is, you don’t get satisfaction from these things. You know what really gives you satisfaction? Offering others what you have to give. I don’t mean money…I mean your time. Your concern. Your storytelling. It’s not so hard….There are plenty of places to do this. Say you know computers.’ Talk to someone who is lonely. Play a game with a child. ‘Go to a senior citizens centre and teach them computers. You come there and teach, you are very welcome. And they are very grateful. This is how you start to get respect, by offering something that you have…you find new respect for yourself, because you are needed.
If you’re trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down at you anyhow. And if you’re trying to show off for people at the bottom, forget it. They will only envy you. Status will get you nowhere. Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between people….Giving to other people is what makes me feel alive. Not my car or my house. Not what I look like in the mirror. When I give my time, when I can make someone smile after they were feeling sad, it’s as close to healthy as I ever feel. Do the kind of things that come from the heart. When you do you won’t be dissatisfied, you won’t be envious, you won’t be longing for somebody else’s things. On the contrary, you’ll be overwhelmed with what comes back.
Remember what I said about finding a meaningful life:
Devote yourself to loving others.
Devote yourself to your community around you.
Devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.’