These middle school football players have it figured out. They banded together and conspired behind the backs of their coaches to give one boy, a special needs student, a moment of glory:
The thing they figured out? See, a lot of people will think I'm talking about the kid that scored the touchdown. But I'm not. I'm talking about the kid at the end of the interview, and all his teammates, who figured out one of the biggest secrets to happiness there is: giving.
If you get someone's back and take care of them, it makes YOU happy. Believe it or not.
I'm sick to death of all this "You're alone in this life" nonsense. It's simply not true, if you don't want it to be. There is an entire world ready to get your back and help you along and work with you to get you where you need to be.
Note that I didn't say "want." It's not always about what you want. But it IS always about what you need.
So how do you get this army of people willing to help you? How do you become the recipient of charity and goodwill? You give. You give freely and without expecting anything in return. Right now, I live with someone who isn't charging me rent. I had a company send me a replacement phone when mine was stolen. I've gotten care packages and gifts in the mail. I've had some of the absolute most amazing friends I've not only had, but even met, help me out financially.
Why? It's certainly not because of my wit and charm.
The friend that's letting me live with him has been my friend since tenth grade. He's not loyal to me because we've known each other a long time. I've known literally hundreds of people in that time. It's because the times he's ever needed me, I moved heaven and earth to make sure he had what he needed, to the best of my ability. I love him and will do anything for him.
The same goes with the friends who helped me out financially, and the friends who let me crash on their couch, and the friends who have picked me up and carried me along this year. Whenever I could, I made damn sure I was there for them. And whenever they need me again, I'll make damn sure I'm there for them.
For a long time, I wondered just why anyone would give a shit. Why would they help me? What do they get from it?
Then, I used a tool that I learned a long time ago: I turned the question back on myself. I started with me. What would I get out of it? Well, that's easy. I've done it before. I know exactly what I get out of it: the knowledge that someone I love, respect and care about is okay, and will be okay, so long as I've got their back.
And yes, I've been burned by that before. I've helped several people who are simply takers. They take and take and take and never attempted to stand on their own. When the time came to stand on their own two feet, they refused to walk on their own. Instead, they just found someone else to use.
But I don't ever let that jade me. I'd rather be disappointed by someone and hurt a little while, than to stop helping those folks who continually meet and exceed expectations and take what help I can give them and push forward to become their best. That moment -- that joy -- of seeing someone excel and take flight... I refuse to let some users and bad people take THAT away from me because they were greedy and poor excuses for humans.
It's cliche for a reason: you give to get. And the less you put "getting" first, the more you'll get back.
But before you can withdraw, you MUST invest. Before you can get help, you have to join the team. And you can't do it with the intent of someday being paid back. That's not how it works. You have to open yourself to the world and contribute, honestly and earnestly. Because THAT'S actually the payout: the way it feels when you pick someone up, help them stumble along, and suddenly they begin running under their own power and win the race.
I'm still figuring out a lot of things. My writing is one of those things. But I can tell you that, since I turned from simply trying to entertain, to trying to write stuff that helps people in some way, I've felt better than I've ever felt about the stuff I make.
And to that end, I've got your back. Pay it forward.