The Height of Selfishness

A friend of mine, Nikhil Vaish, contacted me recently asking if I would help spread the good word on a project he is involved in with Bhumi, India’s largest youth volunteer organization.

I asked Nikhil to send me a brief on the project and when he did, I was impressed by the material. So much so, that for the first time ever I am promoting something through my blog site Lata Wonders.

What impressed me enough to do that? Well, imagine a volunteer organization running a campaign platform that says #DoSelfish!

No, that’s not an error.

Bhumi is asking the youth of India to make their country the most selfish one on the planet.

The insight is a brilliant one if you consider that selfishness is a direct outcome of a human need to feel good. The only issue is that we reach for the sensation of feeling good about ourselves by acquiring, acquiring, acquiring.

So, we constantly shop for new clothes. We try to outshine our neighbours with the latest fashions in household décor. We go out for dinner. We buy the latest models in smart phones or cars.

Yes, we do all that because of our selfish need to feel good about ourselves.

The only problem is that when we seek happiness by feeding our ego, the pleasure is at best fleeting.

That’s a problem!

So, what do we do? We continue seeking happiness, never realising that happiness as a state of permanence lies not in taking, but in giving. That, by the way, has been proven by research studies. When we help others, the happiness we feel is like no other.

That then is what Bhumi is asking the youth of India to experience – the bask of true happiness gained through helping others.

It is still a selfie act because the ultimate beneficiary is the giver, more than the receiver.

Try it. #DoSelfish during Daan Utsav (Joy of Giving Week) between September 27 to October 12, 2015.

If you need more incentive to sign-up, let me tell you that Bhumi is not asking you for anything specific. Sure, there are a number of volunteer activities you can sign-up for. But if you don’t have the time, you can still volunteer for Daan Utsav by choosing any act of giving. The example Bhumi gives is taking your maid’s kids out for ice-cream.

Interested? You can sign-up here.

Want to know more about Bhumi? You can find out more here.

If you would like to ponder a little more about the state of happiness, do read an earlier post of mine In search of happiness.

Or, check out how two youngsters in Melbourne, Australia are currently basking in their #DoSelfish enterprise. Find out how Crystal Fickers and Trishay Trada have opened a fair trade café, located in Ashwood, East Melbourne. The idea is to run the café on ethical principles. All food and beverage materials will be sourced only from sustainable fair trade suppliers. Wait, there’s more. Crystal and Trishay have decided to employ only asylum seekers/ refugees. You can read more about their efforts here.

The café opened a week ago and the picture below speaks volumes. The picture shows a moment captured by Crystal Fickers. On the left is Trishay Trada. Yes, I know he looks tired but I do believe it is a happy sort of tired. Trishay has his arm around Jamshid, an asylum seeker from Afghanistan.

Jamshid fled from Afghanistan on his mother’s urging after he watched his cousin shot between the eyes. He paid people smugglers and transited through a number of countries to finally reach the Australian Christmas Island detention centre where he stayed for 18 months. Jamshid finally received temporary asylum after such a long haul. His struggle didn’t end there. Post receiving temporary asylum, he struggled to find work for 9 months.

If Jamshid is smiling in this picture, it’s probably because he has finally got a job in Crystal & Trishay’s newly opened café. They have employed one other asylum seeker, Neda from Iran, who has her own heartbreaking story.

We heart emoticon our lovely and hard-working #asylumseekers staff! Here's Jamshid (right) making #coffee at our #socialenterprise #melbournecafe. Image courtesy: Crystal Fickers & Trishay Trada.
Here’s Jamshid (right) making #coffee at our #melbournecafe.” Image courtesy: Crystal Fickers.

It’s apparent that most people who go through the hardships that Jamshid and Neda have only want an opportunity to lead a life of self-sufficiency and dignity. And Crystal & Trishay have opened the doors for them to do just that.

There are many people out there who start an enterprise in the hope that they will be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. There are also youngsters like Crystal and Trishay who think different because their desire is to leave behind a world that is a better place.

You can say that their desire is the height of selfishness because after all they will feel happier living in a better world.

That’s why you need to give. That’s why you need to extend a helping hand.

Youth everywhere are best placed to realize this and act on it.

And that’s the reason the Bhumi project appealed to me. The world needs more Daan Utsavs.

India needs to discover the Joy of Giving. And I hope that the readers of this post will help by sharing this message and also encourage the young people in their lives to sign-up.

Oh, one last thing. If you have family and friends in Melbourne, do ask them to visit  the From the Art café. 

Featured Cover Image Credit: Swan Song by Justin Jensen ( CC By 2.0)


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