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What Happens To Us When We Invest In Others

  Jason Abell     Jul 18, 2014

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The family and I just finished a 6 day mission trip to the The Dominican Republic and I am settled into my seat on a plane back to the US. I can now take a breath and write a little about what I learned. This was the first time our four-person family (13 year old Julia, 11 year old JJ, and middle aged Mom and Dad) have served others internationally and I must say that it was quite an experience. During this trip, we purposefully visited the most impoverished places to help in any way that we could during our short stay there. We painted houses, held babies and played with children that don't get much positive adult attention, put on medical clinics and small music concerts, and attended church services. I could (and probably will) write long articles about the extreme poverty we witnessed during our stay and the things that we can do about it that actually make a difference, but that is not what this article is about. Instead this little story is about what happens to us when we invest ourselves in others.


We decided to be a part of this trip, not only to invest in those that may benefit from our help, but also for our children to see and experience parts of the world that are less fortunate than the cushy world of ours that is suburbia, USA. Well sure, those things did indeed happen which is nice, but some other things happened which were even more cool. Check it out...

 

During our stay, the 4 of us slept in 1 room, which was a little inconvenient. For those of you that have ever been a part of a teenage girl's life (either as a sibling or had one as a daughter), you know that tight family spaces can be, let's say, "interesting." Here's the crazy thing though: my kids have never gotten along better then they did during this trip. Did I mention the part about us sleeping in one tight room together with the mosquitos constantly sucking our blood? And did I tell you the part about our skin being all sticky from the sweat and grime from the day's work while we tried to sleep? And I mentioned the golf-ball-sized mosquitoes, right? Oh - I already did? Well, it bears repeating anyway...

 

And yet our kids got up early in the morning without any nagging from us, they worked tirelessly throughout the day in the heat without complaining, and remained patient and humble even though there was no internet connection nearby! The six-day journey had us riding to and fro in the back of open air trucks, painting in the hot sun, and engaging with some of the financially poorest people in that country. But smiles abounded and hearts were full of love and gratitude from both sides of the helper/helpee equation. Since the main language of the DR is Spanish and most of the Hatian refugees we engaged spoke Creole, the language barriers abounded. But what abounded even more was the fact that investing in others during this trip seemed to have some unintended (very positive) consequence of helping ourselves at the same time.

 

There has been a plethora of research done and articles written on the subject of "why people invest in others or volunteer" (Here's a great read on this subject from the American Psychological Association). What I know on a “rubber meets the road” level is that our family departed for the Dominican Republic to help others and what happened is that we were helped significantly at the same time. And this dynamic seems to happen over and over again when we invest in others.

Have you had similar experiences? Let us know about them in the comments section below. And check out this 16 second video of my daughter Julia and her Hatian friend Stephanie and tell me who is helping who…

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Jason Abell

Written by Jason Abell

Jason Abell is the President of Rewire. He is positively amped-up every time he sees his clients overcome obstacles that've dogged them in the past. If you're in the mood for an argument, start insulting his beloved Orioles.

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