Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was a social activist, delegate to the United Nations, and First Lady of the United States from 1933-1945. A widely respected cultural figure during her lifetime, Roosevelt redefined the role of First Lady while championing social causes such as civil and human rights. Roosevelt was active in politics until her death in 1962 and is today remembered as one of America’s finest female leaders.
At the heart of Roosevelt’s personal philosophy was a commitment to service. As mentioned, Roosevelt was committed to her work in the 17 years following her time in the White House. “When you cease to make a contribution,” she once said, “you begin to die.” But it’s not just for the sake of staying busy that Roosevelt sought to serve. She, like so many other historical greats, took joy from the act of doing things for other people:
“You get more joy out of the giving to others, and should put a good deal of thought into the happiness you are able to give.”
As quoted in Sheroes: Bold, Brash, and Absolutely Unabashed Superwomen from Susan B. Anthony to Xena (1998) by Varla Ventura, p. 150 [via Wikiquote]
Below, Big Think expert Sheryl WuDunn runs through the many personal and professional benefits of giving:
“All I insist on, and nothing else, is that you should show the whole world that you are not afraid. Be silent, if you choose; but when it is necessary, speak — and speak in such a way that people will remember it.”