How to arrive at a situation where the work carries personal benefit for me and is beneficial to others?
Find what is beneficial to me and put it in one circle. Find what is beneficial to others and put it in another circle. Find the cross-section of the 2 and develop this.
Be careful about the outer regions: that which is beneficial only to me or beneficial only to others, are the placements in these regions seeking attention but not receiving?
Attaching to the ‘beneficial to me’ circle can be a circle for ‘detrimental to others’ so as to isolate the things that may need to be done in private or perhaps left undone.
And, voila! I give you Figure 1.
The place of motivation
One distinguishing feature between what is beneficial to me versus what is beneficial to others is related to where the motivation comes from. Many things may be beneficial for other people and the motivation to have it done comes from them. It can become beneficial for me depending on how I view the thing, and what my experience is like while doing it, but since the motivation comes from elsewhere it is not immediately beneficial for me.
In other words, I need to put in effort for it to become beneficial to me, and this work can involve changing my perspective. One way to do this is to become curious about how it is beneficial for others. If I understand how it is beneficial for someone else then it can take on the energy of being beneficial to me because I’m doing something helpful for another person. The alternative is to accept that it is not beneficial to me and move forward all the same.
It may also be wise to find more and more ways to bring what is in the yellow circle and the blue circle towards the green cross-section. If it is possible for me to find meaning in the things that are beneficial to others (by activating curiosity or some other mechanism) then they can become beneficial to me as well. This is directly related to creating meaning in the world. If someone else is creating meaning, and I can participate in that, then I share this role of creating meaning and I’m living some purpose in life.
Likewise, if I’m able to share what is beneficial to me with others then it may become beneficial to them as well. Here I am assuming that others may think like me and that if they realize something is beneficial to me then they may receive benefit by their participation in this thing. Same as sympathetic joy, to see someone else feeling joy and as a result feel joy internally. To elaborate: to see someone else as receiving benefit and as a result receive benefit to self.
What about those things which stay within the sections of ‘beneficial only to me’ or ‘beneficial only to others’?
Self-devaluation or self-neglect can develop through excluding the ‘beneficial only to me but not meaningful to others’ things. It is important that we nurture ‘the self within’. Personally, I find that when my self-given guidance is followed I become much more pleasant and giving towards others; I develop and manifest good-will. When the opposite is true, and I have crossed myself, or gone against my own guidance, then I may become short-tempered, aggressive, mean, or some other representation of ill-will.
A self-centered and narcissistic tendency can develop through excluding the ‘beneficial only to others but not meaningful to me’ things. At times, it is fine to be self-centered and narcissistic, these lead to confidence. However, we must tread with caution so as to avoid becoming arrogant or dismissive of the other human beings, and the other creatures of this world with which we share life.
Care to know some specific examples from my experiences?
See Table 1. Across the top are the categories represented within the sections of the Venn diagram from Figure 1. Within the table are colour-coordinated examples of each section.
If any change is to be intentionally and purposely introduced it would be to bridge the gaps between the yellow and blue to create more green, and avoid the red at all reasonable cost. Increased attention can be placed on the green, and awareness of the situation is required for the timing and location of the purple.
The way forward
As mentioned above, the most purposeful energy may be to bridge the gaps between the yellow and blue. Personally, I tend to focus more on building the bridge from the yellow toward the green, since this involves changing myself and my own perspective. I like to think that I am open for the bridge to connect from the blue toward to green; open for when someone else has chosen to begin or continue building that bridge
An example of building the bridge from the yellow toward the green
When I began writing reviews for Amazon products it was something besides the work I wanted to do at the time. I was really involved in researching for Forex articles and enjoying the experience of playing the demo account online. Perhaps with obvious understanding, I was also quite engaged in depicting my travel adventures and interesting situations into entertaining and engaging stories to share with myself, family, friends, and whoever else. Both of these activities were considered a part of my contribution and were in trade for living and food. The amazon reviews on the other hand, although also a part of my contribution as a writer, became far less interesting after a short time.
The way for me to bridge the gap was to ask questions and gain understanding about how and why it was meaningful for the host that these reviews be written, and particularly written by me and not by him. In the beginning, he started writing these reviews as a hobby, so really I was being invited to share in this hobby, but I lacked the initial interest, thus I lacked the personal motivation.
Over time, I found benefit in the research process toward writing these reviews. This was engaging for me, and I felt like I may be able to offer something interesting and educational for a wider audience. At this point it became personally meaningful, and the benefit was extended to me. Thus, the bridge was being built toward the green, toward including benefit for me.
An example of building the bridge from the blue toward the green
Another example comes with meditation: my host Ganesh made the intention of progressing toward sitting for 1 hour in meditation without movement of the body. He set this goal before I arrived, and so when I came and he saw that this was happening for me, he became quite interested. Now it happens that we share in discussion about meditation on a regular basis, and this daily practice that I do has been extending toward being beneficial for him as well. He has even gone as far as keeping a photo of me meditating as his phone’s background for a reminder and for inspiration (see photo below, Figure 2). I believe that this gap is bridging for 2 reasons: 1) because I am involved in the activity, and since it is beneficial for me I continue to engage with it, and 2) Ganesh, who is ‘the other’ in this case, has taken personal interest in this activity and so it is becoming beneficial to him as well. As this bridge is being built from the blue toward the green it is becoming doubly beneficial to me. Beneficial because it was initially so, and beneficial because it is now having a positive impact on the life of someone else, which is further benefit to me.
An example naturally within the green
A final example is the simple case of writing travel experiences. It is beneficial to me because I get to relive and explore the depth of these experiences, and I get to share these meaningful moments with others in a way that I enjoy doing: through telling story in writing. It is beneficial for Ganesh because it is generating content for his online blog. Simple.
I wonder: was this article in the blue, or toward the green? I guess that answer is really up to you.