There is a joy that comes from the heart when you do a good deed without being conscious of helping someone, without hoping for any reward. It is the joy of the soul.
With it, you’re joyful in and of yourself, whether or not someone recognizes what you’ve done. That joy is absolute, long-lasting, and makes us grow.
With the joy that comes from personal interest, though, we feel bad when others don’t recognize us.
“I’ll give you an expensive diamond,” someone says, “on condition that you show it to no one till the day you die.” Wanting to brag about it but being told not to, your joy in such a gift would be cut in half. For it is the joy that comes from selfishness and a desire to possess.
Ten gemstones can only be shared with 10 people, even if they get one each. Everyone else who didn’t get one is disappointed.
But the joy of the soul is endless and never runs out, though everyone shares it. It’s not delight that comes from taking what belongs to others, from competing and winning; it’s the joy of a win-win relationship, a gladness felt by helping others do well.
When the joy of the soul grows, we come to know a great love embracing compassion for all things in creation. At first, we develop a desire to help those close to us; when that heart grows stronger, we worry about the whole world and we end up thinking about what we could do to help.
When we have such a heart, the life within us looks up to us with respect.