One of my favorite movies is It’s A Wonderful Life. The main character, George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, has dreams of leaving his small town and conquering the world. His desires for wealth and adventure, however, are consistently sacrificed in order to help people in need. As the years go by, he puts himself second to everyone else. The fruit of being selfless is on full display at the end as a multitude of people lovingly gather to help him when he finds himself in trouble.
There’s no nobler act than being selfless by putting your own needs and desires second to someone else’s. It’s truly a way to give love to the world and it’s best to start with our families. Here are a few ideas to consider as you place yourself on the path to second place.
1. Acknowledge your own selfishness.
The more selfish you are, the less you realize it. Start with understanding and acknowledging your own self-centeredness. Just like anything else, if you strive to be something, it takes training and practice. In everything you do, think, and feel, evaluate your motives. Ask yourself: Is my motivation for myself or others?
2. Consider what the other person is going through.Everyone has pain and we have an opportunity to bring healing if we look for it.
A friend recently told me about a grocery store check-out clerk who was being short with everyone. Instead of getting upset, my friend asked the woman if she was OK. The woman started crying and explained how her daughter had just passed away. Keep your eyes open to the suffering of others. Everyone has pain and we have an opportunity to bring healing if we look for it.
3. Assume the good intent of others.
Many people feel like it’s them against the world. This mentality gives us a defensive posture because we fear being taken advantage of or ripped off. We end up spending all our time protecting our personal kingdoms rather than giving to others. I’d rather be ripped off than miss giving someone the care they desperately need.
4. Take what you need and leave the rest.
We are a consumer society. However, if we returned to this simple principle, how much better could the world be for all of us? Consume less, be content with what you have, and give more.
How much of our lives do we waste brooding over useless grudges? These thoughts literally eat at our insides. Forgive and let it go. It frees us up to think of the needs of others rather than our own pain.
6. Practice healthy habits.
Our wives, our children, our friends, and our business partners depend on us daily. That requires our health and mental clarity. It is easy to consider our health our own business. However, our loved ones need us here for as long as possible, so let’s have the discipline to be healthy.
7. Give others the glory.
Don’t be a glory seeker. Instead, give it away. Speak well of people and give them credit when it’s due. Give the people in your life the encouraging words you’d like to receive.
8. Help others reach their potential.
Help others develop to reach their maximum potential. Let their growth and success be your reward. Strong leaders are leaders who help others achieve their dreams.
9. Find contentment.
Find contentment where you are and in what you have. Rather than envy others who may have more, congratulate them.
10. Make your life about relationships.
Ask any human on his or her deathbed what true wealth is, and he or she undoubtedly will tell you that it’s relationships.
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: 10 Habits Happy Women Share.
Sound off: When have you seen someone put him or herself second in an admirable way?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think it means to put yourself second?”