Most of us don’t question the importance of giving to animals and why we need to alleviate their suffering. As compassionate people, we understand that even a small act of kindness can improve their wellbeing. We do it out of love, consciousness, empathy or simply because it is the right thing to do. But have we thought about how being kind is also good for our souls?
Helping animals doesn’t take much. Throughout the day, we’re constantly making choices that affect them direct or indirectly: “Am I going to have eggs for breakfast?”, “Did I remember to feed the cat?”, “Should I get that leather purse?”, “Did I share that campaign on facebook to stop elephant rides?”. The list can go on and on.
Regardless of our lifestyle choices, what we do every day has an impact on animals, even if we don’t own one at all. And although it is wonderful to have a cruelty-free way of living, I know it us not feasible for everybody. The great thing is that we can still be kind no matter how small our efforts are and we’ll be rewarded for it. Here’s why.
There’s no distinction or separation - When we honestly and genuinely want to help animals, we are working towards a common goal. Wether we’re vegans or omnivores, we are all passionate about animals. We don’t make any distinctions or divisions among us. Love and compassion is in our hearts and that brings us closer to one another. In recent years we have seen more division and distance being accentuated in Western societies. When we help animals, we see beyond the things that make us different.
Caring for animals transcends culture, language, gender and religion - Similar to what is stated above, when we help animals we are not focusing on personal distinctions. In all countries and cultures, there will always be people trying to do the right thing for animals. During the week I volunteered at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiangmai, Thailand, I came across wonderful people from Asia, Europe, North and Central America. Some were in their late seventies, others in their twenties. My roommate was muslim. One of the other volunteers Hindu. Some were single, others came with their spouse and children. Our background becomes irrelevant. Helping animals transcends our personal history.
You give freely without expecting anything in return - If there’s one thing animals teach us is unconditional, selfless love. Animals comfort us. They wait for us when we’re gone for hours or days at a time. They keep us company. They forgive us. By giving back to our own pets, to stray animals on the street or to those we will never meet, we’re practicing a kind of love that expects nothing in return; one that has no personal gain or interest. The only motivation is to give freely. What a great feeling! I love this prayer by Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron of animals and the environment, as it exemplifies the essence of this post.
4. You gain a sense of purpose - Before being involved in the welfare of captive elephants, I didn’t know I had a calling in life. I remember praying (literally) to find my place in the world, but I wasn’t sure what it would look like or if I would find it at all. After learning about the plight of elephants living in captivity, everything changed. The reason why you’re reading these lines and why I decided to pursue a creative business is to do my best to end the cruelty to elephants. They give me purpose and a cause to pursue. A life without purpose can be shallow and lead to depression.
5. Animals connect you to other [kind] humans - Sometimes we don’t have a lot of things in common with people we meet at home or overseas. Whether it is age, occupation, availability of time or passions, there are times in which we don’t find common ground with others. However, helping animals brings us closer to people just on the principle of kindness and compassion. Thanks to them, we’re able to connect with others we wouldn’t ordinarily have met. Thanks to Buddy, my Nepalese street dog, I met one of the kindest people in Jordan so far. He chose a great friend for me. He sat next to her at the veterinary clinic and wouldn’t leave her side. We chatted and that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. If it wasn’t for him, I would not have met this wonderful human friend.
Added Bonus (es)
Did you know that when we help others we release three happiness hormones? That’s right, three! In this article written by Eva Ritvo, MD for Psychology Today, she shares that: “Helping others triggers a release of oxytocin, which has the effect of boosting your mood and counteracts the effects of cortisol (the dreaded stress hormone). Interestingly, the higher your levels of oxytocin, the more you want to help others. When oxytocin is boosted, so are serotonin and dopamine!” Isn’t it amazing? Dr Ritvo calls this The Happiness Trifecta.
Another bonus: In her book, The Power of Joy in Giving to Animals, Dr. Linda Harper shares that thanks to helping animals we tap into our inner wisdom and we become our best selves and in doing so, we access our collective power by which we connect with others who want to make a difference in the lives of others. There is a strong sense of belonging when you’re working with others for the betterment of other sentient beings. They pay-offs are huge! Help animals. Your future self will thank you for it.
Inspired by this read? Here are 3 ways to boost your happiness level today!
Help retire Nepal’s working elephants
Support a grassroots project for Jordan’s street cats
Sponsor threatened orangutans in Borneo
Note: These are organizations that I personally trust and support.
Did you find this article to be true in your life or in someone you know? Do you think being kind to animals has a personal benefit? Would love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment in the section below.
This post was inspired by recent events. Thank you for being here!