I can’t deny that we are now living in difficult times, and our humanity is being tested. I try to avoid spending too much time on news sites though because based on what is being reported its easy to get disheartened with the world.
How can we remain filled with light in dark times? To work tirelessly to make the lives of others better.
“Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.” - Luke 6:30
In most religions and spiritual faiths, charity and selfless service have been the foundational building blocks that guide people how to live their lives in accordance with religious doctrines. For example, this is the case with doctrines set forth in major holy books such as the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud, and the Bhagvad Gita.
While the act of service to mankind is often a universal thread that links all religions in their practice, one does not need religious or spiritual doctrines in order to acquire this noble virtue - it is actually inherent in our very DNA to show compassion for others.
Even animals possess an inclination for altruistic behavior. In his seminal work, ‘The Origin of Species’, Charles Darwin noted that neither survival nor competition were the predominant behaviors he had observed in animals, but rather it was compassion.
Why Begin a Life of Service?
Walking the path of righteousness, especially in a world filled with selfish acts seems difficult, so why should we do it? Because selflessness teaches us about who we are, and it shapes us into the highest and best version of our ‘self’.
The trials of life can overwhelm many of us and especially so during the holidays when we have a stronger tendency to focus on what might be missing, such as a relationship or financial success. These feelings can pollute our mind with unhealthy beliefs about ourselves and can contribute to depression during this time of year.
One of the best things about immersing ourselves in the pursuit of kindness and charity, is that in doing so we can take the critical lens off our own lives. It’s hard to feel down in the dumps about yourself when you are doing good for someone other than yourself. The healing power of every little act cannot be overstated because we are also learning to put our egos aside.
The good vibrations that this behavior automatically releases out into the universe are contagious. Energy, vibrations, and karma are rather esoteric ideas, but there are also tangible, visible results of our acts of sincere generosity.
It can be visibly seen through a smile of someone you have just given an uplifting compliment to, or the look of relief on the face of someone you have helped without them having to ask you first, it can be the delight in surprising your partner with their most favorite food, or the sheer gratitude on your child’s face when you spontaneously shower them with hours of your uninterrupted, cell-phone free attention.
Being more selfless somehow also makes us more human too- it helps us identify fully with the person we really are inside (not what social media or others need ask us to be) - creating an everlasting positive self-image. Nothing can take away the goodness we spread in this world, for it has been recorded for eternity to witness.
One Act at a Time
How can we be of service to others? Just. Show. Up. Start helping with your own circle or friends and family first, then help those just outside of your circle the people you see every day in your community who put themselves on the front line to serve you: teachers, fire and policemen, the clerks at grocery stores, the barista who makes your coffee, or the person who works at the shipping store, etc.
Talk to them - ask how they are doing and build bonds with the people that make your life better, find a way to honor them, even if it is a small gesture. Don’t be worried that you might not get a response - you will - every one of us likes to be acknowledged for who we are as people, not what we can do for someone else.
Often, the best way for us to help others is to show up for them, and I don’t mean just sending a text or a chat on social media, I mean physically showing up, and if that’s not possible then do a video call.
Be persistent - often when people most urgently need our help is when they are the least willing to ask. Do you know someone who has been going through a difficult situation? Dedicate your time and attention in a way that you have never done before.
Just like Piglet, sometimes just patiently waiting out a difficult storm with someone until they feel better one cup of honey and tea at a time is all we need to do.
The New World Order: Love and Compassion
It is not only humans that need our help, our Earth and all of its inhabitants are in dire need of our action. If we apply this new way of thinking toward nature, we can change our negative impact on the environment and the way we use the limited natural resources of this planet.
The need to change our selfish behavior extends to what we will leave for the generations after us. How can you find ways to conserve more and waste less?