True Happiness – The Joy Of Giving

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Can you think back to when you were a child? Do you remember a time when you had some new friends come over, perhaps that time when you wanted to show off a new toy or a secret hiding place?

When I was about 6 years old, I didn’t have much in the way of toys, I did have a little room where my 3 siblings and I used as a playroom. It was pretty run down but back then, it was my haven. So when my 2 cousins visited from Australia, imagine my excitement when I showed them my playroom!

“Hey hey, come here! Here’s my playroom!“

“Where are all the toys?” came the response.

I didn’t know what to say. I had never thought about that. I had always been happy with what I’ve got. Suddenly I was assaulted with questions I had never asked myself before.

Why was I so proud of an empty rundown room?

Why can’t my parents afford toys?

Why Why Why?

Its been over 30 years since and to this day I still remember that embarrassment, that inadequacy I felt. However, those feelings fell away soon after they went home.

Living in that resource poor environment, I became a generous kid and, the more I share the more my friends share their stuffs with me. I think it was the sudden insight into how other children feel when they don’t have much. It made me want to share what I had with them cause I didn’t like how it felt.

Until today, my friends still describe me as a generous person. On hindsight, I believe I reacted the way I did and became who I am today because of the way my parents lived. We didn’t have much when I was a child but even so, my parents still gave generously and helped compassionately wherever they could.

Watching them living the way they did shaped my thinking, my actions and my way of being. And I’ll always be grateful for having grown up that way even without all the luxuries other children had.

Over the years, upon reflection, I realized, it’s not what I give that matters. Its not giving that I enjoy but the joy of sharing that I enjoyed. I realized too from that incident so long ago that you don’t really need much to be happy. It’s the focus on what you don’t have that makes you unhappy.

Eng-Sing Soon,
Executive Director, Learning & Development
Goldman Sachs


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