Service to others
To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children,
to leave the world a better place,
to know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived,
this is to have succeeded.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
What is service?
Being of service is not just about volunteering. Your form of service may simply be
Helping a friend
Helping a stranger in need
Cooking a meal for a neighbour who is ill.
Offering your time and labour at a local co-operative
Showing up to help at or support local community events
Asking your local school if they could use your help
Discovering local tourist and community projects that could do with a free pair of hands
Put your name forward for local committees.
List your skills then find out where there is a good-match for them
If you like people then your offer of help will be in high demand
Similarly, if you enjoy animals, perhaps you could help out at local kennels, cattery, or stables
If you have a pleasant sounding voice, consider giving time to taking newspapers
If you have a particular health condition, perhaps give your time to a related charity
Sometimes when we live with a health condition (or two, or more) we can become obsessed by focussing only on our own discomfort and pain, taking our medications. In a sense, our attention is very inner focussed or "all about me."
But if we can look outwards, become outer focussed, even given the limits of any health condition we may have, we may find we reap many benefits by offering our skills, services, experience, and time. It's not just out health that benefits, our whole life is open to beneficially receive.
Of course, we don’t give of ourselves with the aim specifically to get something back (that is the route to disappointment) but the reality is what we get back is often far more than we could ever imagine anyway.Did you know how much you help yourself by giving of yourself? From lowering stress to boosting self-confidence, from developing practical skills to developing social skills, offering yourself and volunteering offer many health benefits—whatever your age.
Being of service, whatever you choose to call it, and it doesn’t need a fancy title, can make a huge difference to the minds, bodies, souls, hearts, and lives of others. Similarly you may be beneficially touched in body, mind, heart, and soul, and your life may be changed beyond imagination. Here are some more specific benefits; giving of yourself :-
Brings fulfilment, meaning and purpose to your life.
Decreases the effects of depression. By focussing on other’s needs, we become less aware of our own needs, we take our attention away from our own worries and conditions. Volunteering with and for others increases social connection and interaction and helps you build a support system based on common commitment and interests—both of which have been shown to decrease depression.
Helps you stay physically and mentally active. Volunteer activities get you moving and thinking as you increase your knowledge and develop skills at the same time.
Increases your self-esteem and confidence in general, and in particular, socially.
Lessens any sense of loneliness. If you are new to an area, or elderly and your friends and family have gone out of your life, then any sense of loneliness can be countered by becoming involved with local people and groups.
LoL! Depending on what you give, you may end up laughing lots. Laughter – the best medicine.
Makes you more emotionally intelligent and resilient by witnessing how others cope emotionally.
Reduces stress levels. At the end of the day, you feel calmer as you engage a sense of achievement and savour your time spent in service to others. As you give gratitude for what you have been able to do, again a sense of calm descends. This lowers your cholesterol level.
Savour “The Happiness Effect.” Some activities may require you to throw your whole body, mind, and soul into something, resulting in that feel-good sense you get after a strong workout. This comes from a release of dopamine in the brain. Helping others has that exact same effect—so the more you serve, do, volunteer, offer, the happier you become!
Volunteering helps you bridge cultural divides, perhaps even learn a new language, which beneficially affects your brain. Gap years and volunteering abroad spurs physical activity and mental planning while providing you different racial and cultural perspectives.
Holding a permanent intention to be of service to others influences our overall attitude towards life in many ways. When we see someone in need, we will step in without thinking of the personal consequences. Some things asked of us will be tough and test us to our very limits but done in a spirit of grace, with Love, we will come through. We will grow a greater sensitivity and awareness of others, their ways, cultures, rituals and practices; Service literally broadens the mind. Such a commitment to harmlessness and peace, to a willingness to put others' needs before our own and a desire to be at One with All brings rewards immeasurable.
An attitude of service also teaches us to be willing to be served when we too need support.
A Prayer about Serving Others
by Jack Watts
In the Christian tradition.
Allow me to serve others with a joyful heart;
Never keeping score;
Never expecting to receive.
Allow me to give of myself,
To give of my talents and of my goods,
To give of my time and of my energy,
To give of my heart and of my soul.
Help me understand the needs of others,
You have been so gracious to me,
Never gloating over my defeats,
Even when I have been so wrong.
Father, keep a condemning spirit
Far from my heart and further from my lips.
Allow me to serve others as You serve,
With gentleness, compassion, and tenderness,
Never diminishing the worth of another,
Choosing to extend mercy to the brokenhearted,
Like You have repeatedly shown it to me,