Have you ever wanted your life to have more purpose and meaning? Do you struggle with depression, like I do? Have you ever wondered how you can make a positive difference in a world which often emphasizes self and demanding greed? I have learned that one of the best ways to fill your life with more purpose and meaning, alleviate depression, and make a positive difference in the world to someone other than yourself, you have to learn to be able to serve others. In fact, a study from University of Wisconsin Madison(La Follette School of Public Affairs) determined that being generous and serving others leads us to view people more compassionately and creates a sense of community with others. (source: http://shp.rutgers.edu/current_students/documents/October2013.pdf) Here are some other benefits of serving others:
- It eliminates self-pity and feelings of worthlessness.—When one feels that they can’t do anything good for this world, a sense of self-pity and even hopelessness for oneself and the world ensues. It is easier to want to give up and give in to depression and boredom. However, when we strive to serve others, we don’t have time to think of self-pity and our so-called worthlessness because a.) We know that we are making a difference in at least one (if not, more) person besides us because we are helping them. b) I believe God gives us an intrinsic conscience in our souls to let us know that when we unselfishly serve others, we are doing something good. When we help people in need, we also eliminate self-pity because seeing others in need helps cultivate gratitude for what we do have in our lives.
- Serving others brings meaning and purpose to our lives.—When we are wandering aimlessly in life or when we are doing something robotically (i.e.. going through the motions), often we find we are living life without much meaning. However, serving others has a great purpose—to better the world around us. When we not just volunteer at one or two places, but when our whole mindset is about serving others, we will live life more intentionally and not worry about self-serving minutia anymore. We live rich life, spiritually and emotionally, and life becomes more joyful and meaningful for our commitment to serving others.
- Having a servant-mindset (which I define it as: an unselfish motivation to serve others and do what is best for them) rather than a self-serving mindset helps us make a greater impact on the world around us.—When we strive to cultivate a servant’s mindset, we make a greater positive difference in the world around us because this mindset is so counter-cultural and so rare that it will speak volumes to those around us. The norm, sadly, is to be only focused on ourselves and our own needs and desires. Selfishness is only focused on the self and what makes me happy, without caring for another person. Having a servant-mindset, on the other hand, is focused on others’ needs and wants, and the self takes a back seat to those around the self.
- Serving others helps us live longer and happier lives.—There have been numerous studies that have concluded that serving others helps us to live longer and healthier. This is because there is not only more meaning and activity in one’s life, but the satisfaction that one gets from serving others is greater than even the satisfaction of receiving love and care from another person. Serving others also alleviates depression probably because one is forced to look outside oneself and one’s circumstance and actively instead engage in the life of another. This often not only reduces the stressfulness of one’s own situation because they are not focused on that, but one is able to help another through one of their life’s situations.
These are the benefits that many people (including me) have found when we serve others. We can serve others in many ways. Even praying for someone else can be considered service to others. Many people volunteer to help others in need. Still others help to make a positive impact in their communities or even the bigger world around them. What can you do to serve others? What benefits have you found in helping others? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.