“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
― Rabindranath Tagore
This is a hill I’m willing to die on. Just ask my children. I remind them all the time to think of others first. (I’m probably just reminding myself.) This has been my battle cry since I can remember. Maybe it’s the Southern Hospitality thing—I did write a whole ebook about the subject. But even so, even with my intense love and passion for the subject of serving others, we’re all the same—hopelessly self-centered.
It takes work—real work—to put a dent in the selfishness we are all born with. It doesn’t happen just because you get older. It doesn’t happen because you have served others well in the past. It happens when you make a daily, sometimes hourly, commitment to serve the people in your life. And this will look differently for each of us. But one thing I notice is this; when I’m busy serving others I don’t have much time wallow in self-pity or to bask in self-congratulations.
Serving others is the cure for what ails us. And there’s far too little of it in our world today. Or least far too little of it in my own life.
Here are 3 practical ways to serve those you love and live with everyday.
A Loving Meal
It’s so underrated, but cooking for people is one of the best ways to show them you care. We live in a world of fast and frozen food. Most people don’t enjoy home-cooked meals everyday, so this is a sure fire way to bless someone. I often double my recipes so that I have extras to give away. Some of my favorite recipes to serve others are soups and I have a whole list of them on my blog. Go all out and make homemade bread, too!
A Listening Heart
If there is one gift you can give another human being, it is a listening heart. Nothing validates us, makes us whole, helps us become who we are meant to be, as much as to be heard. But we don’t listen well, do we? We are busy, distracted, stressed, overworked, overburdened, anxious, and selfish. We don’t listen because we don’t make space for others in our hearts. Ask your kids or your spouse if they feel like you really listen to them. And then make a commitment to do so with more purpose.
Acts of Kindness
Do you remember the last time someone showed extraordinary kindness to you for no apparent reason? Doesn’t it just make your day? Doesn’t it inspire you to do it for others? But how often do we let our busyness get in the way of serving others? Don’t let another day go by without surprising someone with kindness and love. Write that note, make that phone call, say that kind word, smile more than you need to, make someone’s day, and I promise you won’t regret it. Instead of a to-do list, make a to-serve list.
What is it that keeps you from serving others? Time, pride, selfish interest. I say yes to all three for myself. But, when we make room for others and their beautiful struggle, it lightens our load, too.
When we learn to really listen and care for others, when we incline our hearts to someone else, we become who we were really meant to be—not self-centered and self-focused but giving and generous and full of love and grace.
Day 5 Challenge: Do something, anything, to serve someone else today. Tell us what you did or plan to do on Edie’s Facebook page! We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
Be sure to check out Ruth’s Day 5 Post on Less Self-Centeredness.