It is no surprise to anyone that one of the great tenets discussed in the Gospels is in regards to serving others. As written in Peter 1:12 “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told to you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.” Selfishness not only destroys communities, but adds to the modern disconnection with each other as fellow travelers along this winding and inspired life path. Denying the higher power within everyone is akin to closing the curtains on a sunny day.
The idea of service is one of the final steps in the Alcoholic Anonymous group as well. In that big book, the 12th step is “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” In this group, they specifically prescribe self-obsession as the root of the disease of alcoholism and addiction. When one engages in acts of service it becomes part of the recovery process as it helps to transform one’s perspective from “what can I get out of this” to “what can I give back.”
Here’s three methods to center yourself on the message of the service to others.
Start small. Look at your phone. Think of the people that you haven’t heard from in a while. Give them a buzz. You would be so surprised how happy even asking an old friend or contact how their life is going. It’s in these small tactics that can make a person’s day better – which, in turn, spreads that good feeling in their life. They just might do the same and share the good will with someone perhaps they haven’t spoken to in some time. Paying it forward, as they say.
Get involved in your local community. This one takes a little more energy. There are countless local groups, both politically, spiritually and hands-on community service that need your help. Volunteering at least a couple hours of your time can result in a profound positive mental state. Think of your local food bank or soup kitchen. Think about your local church and what you can do for them. Think of all that canned food that just might go to waste in your cupboards. Providing services to strangers is the pinnacle of altruism. Drop those cans off. Donate those clothes you don’t wear anymore. Take the time to help disabled people walk into a church and get into the pews. If you have the means, then you should use them.
Becoming a counselor or teacher. Now, this takes some serious investment and perhaps even a major life change to accomplish. Sometimes we can be on a certain path in life and halfway through realize there’s not the same fulfillment as one imagined there would be with that particular life choice. A lot of people change jobs mid-stream and there’s no shame in that. There might not be that same monetary pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but fully converting your existence into a life of service pays way off more than any money could ever buy.