Monday, February 6, 2017

Why giving back to society is not what you think it is?

       Marching Forward: At India Gate with the kids of Empowering Minds Education Centre

Years ago, I was watching the renowned Human Rights Activist, Asma Jahangir’s interview on TV. Somehow, the things she revealed that day about her work left me feeling disturbed. I had just started working myself then after completing a two years post-graduation course in Travel and Tourism Management. It was my first job. I was proud of the fact that besides being placed in a prestigious international airline, a decent pay cheque, my job also gave me the opportunity to travel around the world. It was what I relished the most about my profession and made me look forward to a long and fulfilling career in the travel (and tourism) sector.

And yet, that day after listening to the internationally acclaimed lawyer and social activist’s talk, I’d almost felt bad for myself. As if, I had not chosen well and needed to do something more in order to be happy. On the same day, I recall telling my dad that when I retire from active work; I would do something to benefit the underprivileged and the deprived. I don’t know why I said that but it definitely eased my mind and made me feel better.

It took me several more years to finally take a call and after having gained experience in multiple companies; I left my last corporate job at the peak of my career; and instead opted to join the social sector and begin from scratch (after completing my Masters in Human Rights). Now when people ask me what made me leave my cushy corporate job (s) one after the other or what was it exactly that disturbed me that day after watching that interview with a Human Rights Activist, I have the answer.

I was certainly distressed to hear about the sufferings of others but more than that I was disheartened that there was nothing I could do about their situation. It made me feel helpless.

 But I was wrong. All of us have the power to do something about the things we feel bad about! In fact, we’ve the choice of either taking action or just feel bad temporarily and then move on. Much later, I also realised that true happiness lies in seeing others happy. This may sound superfluous to some. But this is an honest response. Today, I work with Empowering Minds, a Delhi based NGO on different projects. In fact I’m one of the founder – members of the NGO. And proud and happy to be working with them.  

                        International Women's Day celebrations at EM Education Centre 

My corporate job (s) could not give me the kind of satisfaction that my inner - most core was seeking. Most of them made me financially secure, gave me the money to buy things I needed for a comfortable life, and even added value to my overall personality but they also made me selfish, irritable, and anxious and mostly left me feeling empty deep inside.

Well, that was my story. However, this article is not about corporate jobs vs. social work. Everyone needs to earn a living and not everyone can shift gears like I did then. But it is equally important to know that things must not be always seen in terms of gains and losses. A simple act of kindness, or reaching out to needy, even volunteering for a cause one deeply relates to can make the person feel happy deep inside. As long as you reach out with a genuine desire to help someone; the satisfaction you get in return is immense. Try it sometime. Here are a few other things that happens when you decide to give back without expecting anything in return-
  • ·         Selfless service brings out the best in you. You evolve as a human being.
  • ·        You get a chance to pay your debt of gratitude to the higher force/almighty for all the good things and blessings you’ve received.
  • ·          In the process of empowering others you learn new skills and enrich yourself.
  • ·         The joy in seeing someone else happy increases your own joy manifold. It even makes you feel proud and accomplished.
  • ·         You create a sense of purpose in life. It enthuses you with new energy. 

I experienced (& continue to experience) all of the above but the best of it all was I no longer wanted to move from job to job. I’d finally realised what I wanted to do till the very end. Make people happy. And be happy myself.

Keep smiling. And spread the joy!

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