As I write this post there have been ISIS attacks in Belgium, Iraq and Pakistan, not to mention attacks in numerous other countries before all the recent tragedies. Their increased activity has people living in fear despite the reality that the likelihood of dying in an ISIS terrorist attack is so much less than dying in an airlines disaster or car accident.
The irrational fear is because of the recency effect. Those things we can quickly recall to mind impact our thoughts and behavior more than other things that might have a far greater chance of impacting us. Think for a moment; we don’t stop flying or driving even though the risks from those activities is far greater than dying from a terrorist attack. Similarly, a poor diet and lack of exercise will kill many more people “before their time” than will terrorist attacks!
Jesus told his followers more than 2,000 years ago it was better to give than receive. Even if you don’t consider yourself a follower of Christ, do you really believe that? I think most people just pay that saying lip service. Very few people get more joy giving than receiving mostly because they stay focused on a “me first” and “looking out for #1” attitude.
One person I know who does get more from giving than receiving is my friend Loring Mellien, also known as Pud to his friends. I saw this clearly on a recent trip to San Diego for his daughter April’s wedding. There’s a world famous golf course in San Diego called Torrey Pines and my wife Jane (an avid, almost addicted, golfer) was intent on playing there. Pud was just as intent on helping her make her dream come true. As Pud and I talked beforehand I told him I thought he might just get more joy out of seeing Jane get the chance to play Torrey Pines than she would actually playing there. Pud is a rare person because he truly gets more joy helping people than he gets from receiving. I also think he gets more happiness from helping others than they get from realizing their goals and desires.
How does this apply to ISIS? Most of the world is living in fear of a tiny group of people when we could do so much more to combat ISIS. I’m not talking about combating them with military forces. I’m talking about combating them with the admonition to love one another and giving, rather than looking to get.
What a message we could send to the world if we all adopted the attitude that you are more important than me! What if we always asked what do you need? How can I help you? The more we do so the more we’ll experience the joy that comes with giving.
How does this relate to influence? Studies form people like Adam Grant show when we help others we do feel better about ourselves (the joy of giving) but that’s not all we’re after. The real value is that when we help others they’re more inclined to help others as a result. That’s the basis of the “pay it forward” concept. Unlike terrorism, which feeds on fear, the more good we do the more good will spread!
If light dispels the darkness and if love conquers evil then we should be able to rid ourselves of the fear from groups like ISIS and others who hate, simply by loving and giving. When I talk of love I’m not talking about the feeling of falling in love but the choice to place another’s well-being above your own and looking for ways to give.
I challenge you this week to look for ways to love and give. Take notice of how you feel and how others respond. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised in both cases and your small part of the world will be better off because of you.