At our core, most of us want to contribute to and be a part of something larger than ourselves. My mission has always been "to contribute to the well-being of humanity," and it has served me (and hopefully some others) well. It is nothing I plan on stopping. Without being able to give back, life just wouldn't seem fulfilling to me.
This does not mean you need to do what I or anyone else does. In fact, it helps to stay away from comparing yourself to others. Oprah gives far more than I ever could, and I applaud her for the great works she has done and will do. I also know that I will never catch up. I do what I can with what I have, and that is all that you can ask of yourself.
If you are like most people, just surviving in this world takes everything you've got, and there probably isn't much extra energy at the end of a day. Add to that kids, school, your working life, and the occasional parking ticket, and your plate isn't just full but overflowing. So how the hell are you supposed to give back? Would it surprise you to know that just by living a good life you are contributing to the lives of others?
Raising good kids, showing up to work every day, taking care of your family - how is this not helping others? Setting a good example, being the kind of person your kids aspire to be, is perhaps the greatest gift you can give to them. And by making an honest living, you are teaching them about survival in a world that isn't always the kindest. With your example, help, and understanding, they will be able to take on the task of healing this planet and fending for themselves as well.
If you are living a good life, you are also helping others; your help may be indirect and even beyond your vision, but the fact that you are doing good in the world is a truth that you should own. Acknowledging what you do for others will support you in continuing to be the person you are. You may find it hard to feel that way for more than a nano-second, so this is a good growth exercise.
I know that not everyone believes in being and doing good for others. So be it. Those people are out there, and we can't necessarily stop them, but we can avoid them or lock them out.
I will open my heart to anyone who wants to make their lives and the lives of others better. Again, you don't have to do anything specific except be the best person you can in the face of a world that makes being a good person these days a lot more difficult — and don't honor the haters and cheaters.
For all of you who maintain your goodness, thank you. You've made my life better by just being who you are.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith is a psychotherapist. Follow him on Twitter @BartonGoldsmith.