How Serving Results In Happiness (365 Days of Spirited Living — DAY 309)
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”
— Barack Obama
The effects of service have long been touted as beneficial not only for the one on the receiving end of the service but also for the one performing the service. Karma, the law of cause and effect or the idea that one will receive in equal measure to what one puts out has entered into mainstream life and language as a force to be reckoned with. Whether we do good or bad, karma has an almost sinister way of seeking us out and finding us when we least expect it.
In your life, almost everything is connected in one way or another. Everything you do, every person you meet, and every situation that happens bears some significance in the karmic realm. Most things just don’t happen for nothing. Everything happens for a reason even if you don’t know the reason before the fact. The good we put out into the world will show us what kind of person we are. Likewise, the lack of good we do will show us a different side of who we are.
Everything that happens in our lives is an action or a reaction in a long chain of events. Every decision we choose to make, every behavior we display, and every life we decide to make better creates change for the present and the future that keeps on giving in two directions. Service then bears a heavy mark on the idea of karma. To serve is to help someone or to otherwise take action to do something for someone. While some people are more naturally bent towards service, others are not. However, a heart for service can be cultivated in every individual.
Why should you serve? Well, the most basic reason is because it helps someone else. The world moves closer to being a better place when we take the focus off ourselves and place it on someone else. Strangely, our own problems or perceived problems are lessened and sometimes even eliminated when we choose to help someone else with their problems. But service also bears other special implications for the one doing the service.
Empathy and compassion, components of service, give you a warm feeling on the inside. This sensation of warmth permeates throughout your body and induces acts of service to continue. The more you serve, the more you want to keep serving not because it necessarily brings monetary gain but because it gives you a sense of significance and joy. Serving also causes us to feel better physically. Studies have shown that a significant number of people studied who did volunteer work or served in some other capacity report feeling healthier in their daily activities.
People who have also been in a difficult situation themselves tend to use their experiences to help others. The pain, heartbreak, or suffering one has experienced in life actually creates a pay it forward attitude where you want to share your experience with the end goal being to help others rather than holding it all in or lashing out to harm or cause pain to others. The result of doing this is usually the development of a strong inner core, positive prosocial reaction toward people, empathy and care for the welfare of others, and an embrace of personal responsibility.
Service is also empowering. Albert Schweitzer said, “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” Service elevates and empowers us to be in charge of our lives and our wellbeing. When we are in control of our well-being, we tend to be happier, calm in the midst of chaos, and more resilient. Helping people creates an upward movement of internal growth and external satisfaction. It uplifts our emotions and transforms our outlook on life.
In short, you get what you give out. Karma can best be described broadly as the concept of action and reaction. This idea governs our conscious choices and can be cultivated to be our automatic subconscious response when we encounter opportunities to serve and help. Don’t be a passerby. Treat serving like dominoes. Once you serve once, it spills over into serving again and again. Service ultimately is how happiness is gained. A continuously internal view leaves us empty and unfulfilled. It’s like a brick wall that’s standing in our way. But when we continually look out to other people and how we can benefit them, we find the deep happiness and zest for life that we seek.
There are some wounds that only compassion can heal. There are some pains that only empathy will understand. We shouldn’t want to live in the kind of world where we don’t look out for the wellbeing of others. Not just the people we know and love — our family, our friends, our neighbors — but anybody who seems to need a helping hand. Service isn’t patronizing, but it is humbling and it teaches us that there is nothing more fulfilling and beautiful than making life better for others.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
— John Bunyan