One day I noticed that my dentist friend, Dr. Rina, was looking a bit sad.  We often meet for coffee, but today Rina wasn’t her usual bubbly self. I asked her what was wrong and she answered:

“Well, Christmas is coming up, and I’m just feeling kind of sad. As you know, both of my children are married and live far away. And I don’t have any grandchildren yet.”

Thinking back on my own situation, I could easily identify with Rina. My children are also grown up, married, and live overseas. Although I do have grandchildren, they’re far away and I don’t often have time with them.

“I can relate to that, Rina,” I said. “I’m in a similar situation. Can I tell you about what helps me?”

I went on to tell Rina about how I volunteer weekly at a local orphanage, and how spending time with the orphans not only does them good but also helps me. I always come away feeling happy and inspired that I was able to do some good and help others. I’m actually not really sure who benefits the most—the orphans or me!

Realizing that Rina needed something to get her mind off her own situation, I told her about an upcoming project at the orphanage.

“We want to make Christmas special for the orphans. We need help choosing the right gift for each one. Would you be available?”

Rina’s face brightened. “Yes,” she replied. “I’d love to do that.”

Over the next few weeks, armed with a shopping list detailing each of the orphans’ wishes, along with size and color, Rina was busy shopping for the orphans. She was so preoccupied with bargain hunting and making the budgeted funds stretch that she hardly had time to think of herself.

The day of the orphans’ Christmas celebration, Rina was at my door, bright-faced and eager to get started on wrapping the gifts.

Throughout the day, I noticed how Rina had undergone a total transformation. She was the one handing out the gifts to the orphans, and every time I looked at her, she was bubbling over with happiness and ready laughter.

Rina found the secret to true happiness: Give yourself away by helping others, and happiness will find you!