I’ve been writing and rewriting this post in my head for days because I want to be very clear: we should not be giving or serving because we believe it will ultimately benefit our lives. I know of a popular personal finance guru says that the reason you should donate money is because people who give attract wealth, and I emphatically disagree with that at every level.
We should be giving or serving because we want to help and serve others, not because we think it somehow unlocks a magical door of wealth and happiness and “good karma” for our own life.
But at the same time, the goal of this course is to help you create a life you love, so it seems only fair to talk about how giving and serving do benefit your life, even if that’s not the reason you should be doing them!
Because the truth is that while giving and serving should not be about us, the very act of serving makes us happier and more fulfilled as women. There are caveats to this, of course, which Jamie will talk about more in later posts, and serving out of guilt or obligation certainly won’t lead to a more fulfilled life. But when we serve authentically according to our gifts, our talents, our passions, and our values, our lives will be enhanced through that process.
Similarly, while we shouldn’t serve out of guilt or obligation, there are times when serving requires sacrifice, which means that serving doesn’t guarantee that our life will be happy and never stressful again from the moment we start serving. But it does mean that there’s a sort of exhausted satisfaction that follows those times of sacrifice.
Another important part of serving is that it gives us perspective for our own lives. The idea of seeing the people we’re serving as “poor, pitiful them” as opposed to “lucky, blessed us” doesn’t quite sit right with me either, but when we see the people we’re serving as nothing less than fellow human beings, brothers and sisters on this planet, we feel their pain and struggles. And that can help put our own pain and struggles into perspective so that we can move through our days aware of the good things in our own lives.
It allows us to view our small troubles—traffic jams and annoying coworkers and technology headaches—in light of the troubles of the people we love and serve—whether that’s homelessness or running from a war-torn country or a devastating diagnosis. And gaining that perspective is always a good thing.
And finally, I think it’s important to remember that most of us have opportunities to serve the people right in front of us—our husbands and children, our neighbors and friends, our communities—even if we don’t feel like we have the time, calling or passion to start a charity or travel around the world.
So that’s why we’re dedicating a month to this idea of serving. We’ll talk about what serving looks like in the lives of busy women, how to make sure you’re serving for the right reasons and in the ways that best fit for you, and how to inspire our children to serve as well.
ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS
- Do you see a difference in your life—in your satisfaction, happiness and perspective—when you’re serving others?
- What things hold you back from serving? Is it time? Stress? Not being sure of where or how you should be serving? On the flip side, are you serving anywhere out of guilt or obligation?
- How do you serve the people closest to you every day? Does this count as service in your eyes?