I flew on a small plane with extra small overhead compartments the day before yesterday.
They asked us to check our carry-on bags before boarding the plane, and then we retrieved them right after we get off.
During the retrieval process, the airport workers had wheeled the cart of suitcases into a little nook which only two people could fit into at a time, and then they temporarily left to take care of something else.
Another woman and I were closest to the nook, so we decided to unload the luggage ourselves from the cart to the main area where anyone could grab them.
During this entire process however, she kept barking complaints.
"Whose job is this?!"
"Dumbest thing I've ever seen."
"Ugh...I guess someone has to do it."
"This is seriously the most inefficient system ever"
At one point one of the airport workers returned from their other task and approached her.
"Whose job is this? Yours?" the woman demanded.
And she stormed off - after helping 20 other passengers by unloading their suitcases.
The entire interaction got me thinking about helping and helpfulness.
The woman in the airport helped, but I'm not sure she was helpful.
Do you see the difference? To help is a verb. It is a transient action. Helpfulness is a noun. It is a way of approaching the world around you.
Helpfulness is not...
…an action or a series of actions.
…just doing what you're asked.
…a state of mind.
…an approach to your daily life. A daily practice.
…doing without being asked.
…seeing the world through a neutral lens.
The great thing about helpfulness - true helpfulness that is done not for oneself, and not even for others, but simply for the sake of helpfulness - is that it is rewarded in the long run.
Whether you want to call it karma, good will, or whatever, those who approach the world with helpfulness are sowing the seeds for a richer life.
The benefits are intrinsic: When we are helpful, the world is full of possibility and fun. When we are unhelpful, it is more cold and aggravating. In which world would you rather live?
The benefits are also extrinsic. When people seek help - with their new project, their new startup, their new fundraiser, their new book - where do they go? To the helpful ones.
Fortune favors the helpful.