we-used-to-get-fedAt the core of our lives are two powerful traits: responsibility and compassion. While they sound like lofty ideals, responsibility and compassion are actually life’s calls to action, built into each of us. We know there are things we should do, and we know when we should be helpful and sensitive to others.  Knowing these things doesn’t make us responsible and compassionate — it is acting on these feelings by participating.

When we are young, most things are done for us. Mothers, fathers and caregivers watch over us, and try to give us what we need — both physically and emotionally.

As we get older, we learn skills and develop an understanding of the needs and emotions of both ourselves and others. Life prepares us, step by step, to move beyond receiving to giving and doing.

By the time we are teens we understand the power of action, and experience the sometimes unsettling shift to our own vital role in making things work out. We become aware that there are things to do, and feelings beyond our own that are worthy of care and consideration.


While each of us needs times of rest and self-focus, being active and involved provides satisfaction and a joy of life that is felt on many levels.

As any elderly person with arthritis will tell you, there is a joy to being able to use our hands. Our bodies and minds like to do things, and there can be pleasure in simple chores — even washing the dishes or taking out the garbage. Human hands are wonderful creations, and using them to help ourselves and others is not just their essential purpose — it physically feels good!

Responsibility and compassion are essential for all successful relationships. We live in community, and though each of us needs our private time, being involved with others is a big part of our lives. When we make the shared parts of our lives better we all benefit. The key word here is “better”, and as anyone will tell you, “better” doesn’t happen on its own — making things better takes action; it takes effort.

There is a special, intense feeling of joy when we bring a smile to others. Some of the best smiles result from sharing a moment of appreciation, celebrating our shared efforts.  It is a smile that says “We are doing this together“.

When times are tough, knowing that someone cares brings strength and hope, but when someone takes action we see our situation improving, and that is a powerful inspiration for people.  Seeing progress — even a slow, small bit — can be like a train starting to move out of the station. It is exciting even if it is mundane, because action moves us forward.

Each of us has personal goals, and knows how good it feels to have something we care about work out. The same positive feelings are experienced for the goals we help others with. In fact, helping others can feel even better than helping yourself.

While ideas and knowledge are good things, it is the doing of things that makes life good.

There is a happy middle ground between exhaustion and idleness, and between servitude and insensitivity — it is being responsible and compassionate.

When we share in what needs to be done — helping each other, and being sensitive to each other’s feelings — we can get the right things done. We can help things work out.

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