If you want to restore your faith in human kindness join an internet forum and ask for help.
I am always amazed at the kindness of complete strangers offering help to fellow members of interest groups. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it is cyclists, campers or just consumers. If you ask for help you will generally receive it. Since making our plans we have been offered accommodation, the loan of equipment and storage facilities by people we have never met and who know nothing of our axe murdering past. Only joking, it was a hammer, not an axe and they shouldn’t have been standing there anyway. But seriously, I am overwhelmed by how much people want to help.
It seems to be a fundamental aspect of humanity though, this helpfulness. Talk to anybody who has travelled in a self-sufficient manner and they will regale you with astonishing tales of generosity and trust. Of course it isn’t unique to travellers but travel lends itself to situations where one party has a need and the other a solution. What is more, I actually think that these exchanges are a core part of what makes travelling special.
There has been a lot of discussion around the benefits of giving to others and its effect on the donor. If you Google (other search engines are available) “giving makes you happy” you will find lots of serious work around the theory. The general conclusion is that giving to others makes you happy. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. So if giving makes the giver happy, and at the same time solves a problem for the recipient, it is like a nuclear reaction of wellbeing. Both parties feel better and then feed off the positive energy of the other.
I don’t know if the type of giving matters. Whether giving money to charity is the same as giving a bed to a stranger. Does giving your time to others provide more, or less, happiness reward than sending ten quid to Sports Relief? Even more interesting is the question of reward. I mean in order to get this positive feedback from giving, does your generosity have to be acknowledged or not? My own view is that it does, even if that only means that you tell yourself that you have done the right thing in making your donation. It doesn’t have to come from a third party but that feedback loop is important I think. I’ve never really understood the concept of altruism.
Having started to write this blog with some considerable doubt as to its value, I may now be closer to understanding what it is that I get from it. Yes it’s nice to have a record of our preparations and the trip itself. Yes it’s nice to explore our thoughts about why we are going on this tour of Britain. But for me, I am beginning to realise why I am enjoying the writing so much. You can call it an ego trip if you like but in defence I say it’s a form of giving in exchange for a reward. I give you my ramblings. You read them because you enjoy them, I hope. Some of you send positive feedback and I get the satisfying feeling of having provided a bit of entertainment or food for thought. Win, win.
Maybe I’m stretching credulity but it’s an interesting topic don’t you think?
Give more, get more: discuss.