Being of Service
Being of service is good for the soul. A client of mine lost her daughter in a car accident. She decided that no parent should have to go through such a sorrow. So, she volunteers her spare time teaching teens how to be careful drivers. “I don’t have to focus on my loss. When I’m helping others, I’m helping myself,” she said to me. Another client lost her sister to breast cancer. She donates money, time, and energy to breast cancer awareness.
And medical scientists are beginning to discover the same thing that my clients already know–in helping others they are also helping themselves. The field of PNI (psychoneuroimmunology) researches the power of the mind to influence health and healing. Did you know that just watching a movie about kindness and being of service can strengthen your immune response? Startling! The now-famous study from Harvard measured antibodies in students before and after watching movies of Mother Teresa at work helping the homeless in India. The antibody that was measured, IgA, helps the body to defend against infection.
My mother contributed to many charities, helped families in her neighborhood, and made over 200 quilts in the last decade of her life. It became her passion to send these beautiful quilts to poor families all over the world. She was never happier than when she was sewing quilts for others.
Try it! There are dozens of opportunities to be of service all over your area. What calls to you? Do you have a skill, a passion, knowledge that you would like to share with others? Find a use for it. Be of service and watch how your life changes for the better.
There’s a reason that the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous includes making amends and carrying the message to others (being of service) as an essential step in recovery. It keeps the alcoholic clean and sober. It also raises his self esteem. Instead of the self-serving behaviors of his past, he (or she) is now willing to give to others.
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is sort of a splendid torch which I have a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to future generations.” – George Bernard Shaw