If we look back at the world’s wisdom traditions we’ll find that for most, one of the greatest ways you can give is to be of service. The cynical person would say, “Well of course that was an organization’s way of getting people to work for free and to build a religion.” Another way of looking at it and what scientific research has confirmed is that being of service has measurable positive effects on our health and well-being. There’s a fundamental reason why this is true.
Being of service provides a feeling of connection and connection is at the core of feeling well. Just think about when you feel really connected to someone else, something feels good about that, when you feel disconnected it doesn’t feel good. We can analyze all the evolutionary reasons for this, but sometimes it’s just that simple.
But being of service doesn’t just provide a feeling of connection, often times it provides a feeling of connection with something greater than ourselves. Something greater may be a community of peers, an organization, or if you’re spiritual or religious, it may be God. Being connected to something greater than ourselves provides a sense of security. Just think about how a baby feels when it is held in the mother or father’s arms — something is comforting about that (usually).
Perhaps Martin Luther King Jr. said it best:
“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
In other words, being of service nurtures more love in your heart which is surely what we could all use a bit more of.
So here’s my challenge to you:
As we enter into the months of colder and shorter days, what are some ways you can boost your resiliency and be of service?
If you’re having a tough time here’s a very simple suggestion:
Find out what other people need. Do you have friends or family who are in need of some kind of help, perhaps babysitting, help moving something, tutoring or cooking a meal? This is a way to strengthen ties with the people you love and create connection.
If you’re feeling like volunteering for an organization but can’t figure out who to go to you can always check out VolunteerMatch to help navigate the waters.
My guess is there are a number of people who have great wisdom about ways to volunteer and I’d love you to write it in below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom that can have ripple effects across many lives.
Photo by USAG Livorno PAO, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.
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Last reviewed: 8 Oct 2011