I know what you are probably thinking… Selfish service?! How’s she gonna spin that? Well, let me tell you that it is this exact phrase, and subsequent action, that has contributed greatly to my happiness.
I have been taught my whole life to love others and to serve them. Sometimes, service is not fun and it is hard. It often puts us in uncomfortable situations, but it is also something that teaches us many lessons, adds to our self-esteem, and of course, helps others. I feel lucky to have grown up around so many great examples of service-oriented people.
A few years ago, a ton of changes happened in my life all at once… Haha, imagine that. I had recently changed jobs, I was struggling with my living situation, and all of my close friendships were changing. During this time, I also had a calling in church where I was responsible for preparing and serving a meal for on average 100 people after church, once a month. I had a committee who was happy to help set up, but I was often times left to clean up by myself. To say that I felt all alone was an understatement, my entire friend support system was gone and the people who were supposed to serve with me left me to do all the work. I don’t remember a time in my life where I had felt lower or more alone, and I felt let down. I could not understand why the people in my life that I loved and served didn’t give anything back when I needed it the most.
After a rather embarrassing cry during the sacrament hymn in church one Sunday, I decided I needed to speak to the Bishop of my church congregation. I was grateful for the opportunity to explain how I felt and was reassured by the peace I felt during our conversation. Before I left, he suggested I begin serving selfishly as a way to improve my situation. I was caught off guard by this suggestion… Serve selfishly? Service is supposed to be selfless, isn’t it? He explained that service is service no matter what, but that selfish service would benefit me AND the person I was serving. Which is what I needed at that time. I left that meeting determined to feel better. I can’t tell you how much those two little words have helped me become the person I am today.
I am pretty sure every person experiences similar feelings in one way or another. I imagine it is a feeling a mother feels often after a long day with her children or someone who has lost a loved one, or gone through a break-up, etc. There are so many reasons why we feel alone or lonely or let down. We all need to experience those feelings so we can learn and so that we can have empathy for others, but most importantly so we know when someone else needs a little service.
So, my friends, that is the secret to my continued happiness… Serve selfishly. I know that when I am feeling down, that is when I need to serve the most. I serve because it makes me feel good and because it is crucial to my continued happiness.
There are the obvious ways to serve like helping a friend move or raking a neighbor’s leaves, and those kinds of service are important. I personally feel that service can also be a much smaller gesture like bringing someone some cookies or homemade bread or sending someone a card in the mail. Service does not have to be big, it just needs to be sincere.
As a side note, making cards is one of my favorite things to do. Here is an example of some of the cards I have made. It is such a small thing that can really make a big difference. If you want to know more about how you can make some handmade cards, leave a comment.
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