Helping others

I’ve realized that I really enjoy helping people.  I think this may be one of the main reasons that I get frustrated working an office job.  I don’t have customers or clients or even other employees that I have to interact with on a regular basis.  Sure, I can talk with my co-workers and my boss, but I don’t really need to.  At least not more than once or twice a day.

Some of my favorite jobs have been in customer service.  It’s unfortunate that they didn’t pay much more than minimum wage though.  When I was in high school I worked at a sandwich shop.  The most fun part of that job was talking with the customers and seeing them satisfied with their food.  I miss this since I’ve been working in the office.

I know this isn’t totally something that applies to office work.  I know there are lots of jobs out there where you can work in an office and still help people.  My old job had me working with a lot of people inside and outside of the company.  It was definitely nice to get a phone call about something and be able to help them solve their problems.

I think this need to help others is an important aspect of any life.  I’ve had many agree with me on this.  Many people even think this may be the one thing in life that makes them the most happy.  Why else would so many people volunteer their time to help others?

I’m not really sure why this is though.  I’m mostly a believer that there are really no selfless acts.  We all live in our own worlds and tend to only do things that benefit ourselves.  They may benefit others, but everything we do is really for our own reasons.  We may say that we really care about other people, but I think helping people really is just about making yourself feel good.

I’m not saying that we’re all jerks and consciously think about this.  I think this is all on some subconscious level.  I think the reason we even care about others in the first place is because it makes us feel good.  It feels nice to help people and if it didn’t, we probably would help them.

If there is something as inherent in our nature as helping others, why do so many of us work jobs that don’t really help anyone?  Maybe this is why there are so many people who volunteer in their non-working hours.  It’s hard because I know that I’m technically helping my company to succeed which helps its end customers, but by not being in touch with those customers, I feel like I’m missing out on something.

Maybe I just need to find something that focuses more helping others.  Maybe I need to volunteer outside of work.  What you do think?  I know there is something to this; it definitely feels good to help people.

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Just Smile

Do you ever notice how after you have a good conversation with someone you walk away with a smile on your face?  Then you’re still smiling and you run into someone else you know.  It seems like the energy and fun of the prior conversation just keeps going for the new conversation.

Sometimes this will happen to me two or three times on a good day.  I can keep running into people and by the end of the day I’m in a really good mood.  The bad thing is that there are a lot of days where these conversations never happen.  If I don’t get the first good smile going, it’s hard to be excited to talk to others throughout the day.

So I’m going to try an experiment.  I’m going to fake it.  I’m going to keep a slight smile on my face as if I just got done having the best conversation with my best friend.  This way I’ll be in a good mood every time I run into somebody and maybe even start up a good conversation.

I’ve been doing this today and have really noticed a difference.  Even total strangers that I walk by have been making eye contact and smiling a bit.  It’s weird.  You can almost change your whole mood and the mood of others just by smiling a bit.

Sure I might be faking it at first, but after talking or just saying hi to a few people throughout the day I feel a lot happier.  That’s definitely not fake.  The good conversations aren’t fake either.

It’s almost as if when you pretend to be in a good mood, you end up in a good mood.

This definitely helps my morale while sitting in the office all day.  I’d rather smile and be happy than sit around grumpy all day.

Get out of bed

This morning I tried something new.  I got out of bed when I woke up.  It was awesome.

For the longest time, I’ve always woken up somewhere between 4-6 a.m.  If it’s closer to 4 I’m usually able to fall back to sleep and get a couple more hours in before my alarm goes off at 7.  But if it’s closer to 6, I usually fall back to sleep around 6:30 and then am really groggy when my alarm goes off at 7.

This has been really annoying.  I’m wide awake when I wake up naturally, but am too lazy to get up and do anything.  I just lie there until I doze off just in time for my alarm to go off.  I’m so exhausted after that and generally feel like garbage all day.

Today was different though.  I woke up around 5:30 and decided to stay up.  I did some stretching, made some coffee, and checked my emails.  It was really weird having an extra hour and a half this morning.  The best part is that I’ve been wide awake all day.  I don’t feel drowsy at all.

I’m sure it’ll catch up with me tonight and maybe I’ll hit the sack earlier, but this is great so far.

Apparently, we sleep in cycles of about 90 minutes.  If we wake up after those 90 minutes we usually feel pretty good and well rested.  If the cycle is interrupted, we don’t feel so great because we still want to sleep for the rest of the 90 minute cycle.

I’m going to keep trying this for the rest of the week and see how it goes.  I might even go out and watch the sunrise tomorrow.  I’m definitely not a morning person, but this might just change my perspective.
What do you think?  Anybody else do this?

Living close to work

Commuting is a drag.  I used to do it, but hated it.  Even a short commute is a time sink.  Especially when you aren’t really that excited about the job you’re going to every day.  Does it make sense to give up on the size and cheapness of living far from work?

Most people agree that your housing expenses should be at or below 25% of your take home pay. I agree with this. It can be overwhelming to pay more than that and have the rest of your lifestyle suffer.

BUT what if you spend more, but the location helps your lifestyle? How much would you be willing to spend if you could be close enough to walk to work? Get rid of your car? Not have to maintain your home? Not pay for heating?

I’ve been living in this situation for a few years now. In a condo, close to my work, in a downtown area. I pay quite a bit more than 25% and have been frustrated with that.  I know that I’m in a bit over my head.  It can be frustrating to see a good chunk of your paycheck disappear every month just so that you can live in a nice place.  But does the situation make up for my expenses? Would it for you?

How much of your monthly income would you be willing to spend to be in this situation? Does the lack of car insurance, gas, maintenance, and car payment, bus fare, heating bill, parking expense make up for this?