Investing in Others
401ks and life savings have been slashed in half; mutual funds are now worthless; homes have been foreclosed; jobs are lost; and the banks have failed. It is sometimes fearful and despairing to see once secure and promising investments completely spent. I do believe, however, that there is one investment that will never run dry. I’m not a financial analyst, but I believe that one way to ensure that you will always be rich, in the fullest sense of the word, is by investing in others. No matter how the market turns, one will always find a positive return on their investment in others.
Despite what kind of roof is over your head, or how much money is in your bank account, an investment in others is the most valuable asset a person can hold. When everything else comes crashing down, those who have invested in others have something to hold them up. I know people who posses overflowing bank accounts, yet they are poor; they don’t take out enough time to invest in the most important account of all: others.
Investing in others doesn’t cost much. It’s creating joyful experiences for your children, taking interest in a coworker’s day, sipping wine with your spouse in the evening, really listening when someone talks, lending a helping hand, or checking in to see how someone else is doing. Looking for simple ways to offer kindness shows others that they inherently hold valuable.
This year I attempted a practical lesson on altruism with my high school students; a social experiment of sorts. Students were required to ‘invest’ acts of kindness into their community, school, family members, and friends. What the students discovered about altruism (doing something solely for the benefit of others without reaping personal reward) is that it couldn’t be done. No matter what the act of kindness, the students ended up being the true benefactors. The investment was not just an expenditure in others, but it grew their accounts as well.
Their personal reflections offered some of the following remarks:
“I realized helping others benefits me, too.”
“The little things have a bigger impact than I thought.”
“If everyone made sure they did one act of kindness each day, our world would gradually
become a better place to live.”
“Kindness can take me pretty far in life.”
“Being kind to others will make me happy, too.”
I find that the investment I make in others has no ‘market value’. My investment won’t fluctuate based on unpredictable variables, it won’t be foreclosed on, and it won’t cause me fear or despair. The most valuable account I have will never go bankrupt as long as I keep putting in small (and maybe random) investments. In fact, my true wealth and riches will mature exponentially when I invest in others.
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