Giving makes us feel good. While altruism is largely regarded as being at odds with the basic theory of evolution, anyone who’s ever given help knows that it feels good.
What did you give this week?
I gave help to a man stranded in his car on a country road with two young sons.
Where I live, if you see someone standing beside their car, you stop and ask what’s up. This guy was at the crossroads of a major road, but no one seemed to have stopped.
So I wound down my window and asked what was wrong. He was out of petrol. My car was on diesel. Did he have a phone to call someone? No.
I pulled over and we talked. He had a long way to drive, and it was already mid-afternoon. I tried calling my friend to see if he had a jerry can of fuel, but to no avail. In the end, the driver borrowed my phone to call the national motorist-assist service. I told them where he was—though he was only about 50km from home, he didn’t know the roads—and they said they’d be about an hour.
I was so sorry I couldn’t have helped him with fuel—an hour’s wait is a long time—but he waved my apology away.
“Out of 30 or 40 cars that have passed,” he said, “you’re the only one who stopped.”
This was no big deal: it took about five minutes out of a sunny Sunday afternoon. Though I couldn’t help him more, I was glad I’d stopped. I didn’t exactly see it as optional—I saw it as natural. Who, I thought, wouldn’t stop for a stranded driver? I was also glad I’d met him. Being able to help someone—whether it’s someone you know, or someone you don’t—is extremely fulfilling.
That’s what I gave this week: five minutes of my time and a phone call. But it left me feeling pretty good about the world. What about you? Tell us what you’ve given in the comments.