“The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful.” ~Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.

I learned a long time ago that the best way to alleviate one’s own emotional pain and suffering is to–perhaps, counter-intuitively–not focus on ourselves, our pain or its causes; but instead to focus on others.

Specifically, when we focus on giving to others, the emotional anguish with which we’re struggling so mightily suddenly becomes weaker. It lessens and lessens and gradually fades away completely.

Is focusing upon giving to others simply a method of avoidance? Are we choosing to ignorantly run away from the causes of our pain and anguish? Hardly.

Choosing to focus upon giving to others instead of harping upon our pains and sorrows is something much greater. To give–especially in times of great personal trial and difficulty–is to foster an immovable sense of love. This love provides us with a new-found strength in life; one capable of overcoming any negative thought or destructive emotion that we may ever encounter.

Giving to Others is a Way to Give Back to Ourselves

The negativity that results from trials, challenges, pain and suffering in life self-perpetuates. Negative thinking and negative emotions beget more of the same; before long, negativity can cause us to spiral into a deep, dark place, from which we fear we might never reemerge.

Although the idea may, at its inception, seem completely counter-intuitive, the truth is that when we concentrate and focus upon giving to others, the pain of our suffering begins to weaken before disappearing completely.

The irony is something beautiful. As we suffer, we become entrapped in our suffering. We cannot think of or focus on anything but ourselves and our pain.

And yet, when we make a concerted effort to focus on others–especially, giving to others every day, even through seemingly trivial acts of kindness and smiles and good deeds–the pain and suffering in which we have become entrenched begins leave us.

On our worst days, inner pain and anguish make us feel like we’re drowning; barely able to keep our heads above turbulent waves and rushing waters. By intently focusing on giving to others, we suddenly find a life-preserver floating beside us. We realize that we won’t drown. We realize that we will life. We realize that we have found new purpose to swim onward.