We should learn how to help ourselves, too, either by helping others or simply focusing on ourselves.
Helping others in order to feel better about ourselves is a trap though.
We have to learn to find happiness in helping others without expecting reward or acknowledgment. Everyone learns that differently: some as missionaries, ascetics, or ministers, while others are artists, teachers, or nonprofit workers.
When we find happiness in helping others without expecting reward or acknowledgment, only then are we truly helping them, and truly benefiting ourselves.
I have learned that in the grand scheme of things, humanity is largely indifferent to our individual, specific existences. I don’t mean that in a demeaning way, but in a realistic way. Where one person dies, a dozen others take their places within moments. Each person is like a finger poking into a sand dune, even the movie stars, movement leaders and presidents.
So if we go around expecting recognition and doing things for others because we’re going to get something out of doing those things, not only are you going to be disappointed, but you’re going to be greedy, indifferent and incapable of actually helping anyone else in any substantive way.
Before helping others, we have to acknowledge how others have helped us, and some of us have to learn to help ourselves. Only then can we actually truly and really do something for someone else. But not until then.