"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
Half a decade ago I graduated college. Upon being thrown into the real world, my friends and I began to start our careers. Five years later, we are officially “adults”. There has grown a clear distinction between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. But this is not a distinction of money. This is a distinction of purpose. As I consider my friends I can instantly tell who are fulfilled and who are not. The reasoning behind each of our conditions is clear:
Those who serve others have purpose. Those who serve themselves are lost.
Let’s take a deeper look into the ‘haves‘ and ‘have nots‘:
The ‘Have Nots‘:
There is an inverse relation between the amount of your efforts that are directed toward personal gain and your well being. Meaningless, subservient jobs worked solely for the paycheck in an effort to buy one’s self more things or social recognition has become commonplace. We continue to work these jobs, and continue to buy these things because we think materialism will bring us joy.
There is no greater argument to this than the fact that people are still buying things! If materialism worked you would buy something and be done with it. But it doesn’t. So many of us continue to work the jobs we hate in order to buy things we truly do not even want. These are the “have nots”.
Then there are the “haves”, and you can recognize them instantly. Those so filled with purpose that their heart sings out with joy at just the thought of doing what they do on a daily basis. What the “haves” have is purpose. Meaning. Fulfillment. Simon Sinek says, “Fulfillment is the opportunity to serve those who serve others.”
This is what the “haves” have. A purpose greater than themselves. They live their lives in service to others as means of benefiting the world without concern for their own circumstance. They love what they do, and they love who they do it for.
In a post-college world, I find myself surrounded by happy “haves” and disgruntled “have nots”.
Service, it seems, is the only antidote to existential frustration.
George Bernard Shaw said,
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.“
Your happiness is in direct proportion to the amount you serve others. If you are happy it is because you have found meaning in your life, and the only real meaning is found when you offer up your life for another.
If you are unhappy then I can almost guarantee that you DO NOT live your life as a means of serving others. When your own self is your primary motivation for living, it is that very self that will suffer.
The strange paradox of being human is that the less concern you have for your self the greater your experience will be. Conversely, the more you focus on yourself the harder it becomes to find joy.
At the very moment I am writing these words, there are over 206,000 results when I search amazon for “self help books”. There is an overwhelming need for fulfillment not being met in today’s world. All of those books can be summed up with this simple idea. You cannot help yourself until you help others. The quality of your life is directly proportional to the positive effect you have on others’ lives.
Live for others, and you will find your self.
Spark Your Growth
Take an honest account of your level of fulfillment and joy. If you feel something is lacking, I encourage you to fill that void by serving another. This is the sure-fire way to improve the quality of one's life. And, if I am wrong and you feel no better after having served another, at least you have improved the circumstance of another. No act in this manner is ever wasted.
If you already spend your time serving others and your life is filled with joy, I urge you to do more. Every interaction with another is an opportunity to serve.
Reach out to a disgruntled co-worker. Help a stranger. Donate your time to another. Strengthen your already meaningful relationships. Service compounds upon itself. The more you do the greater you feel.
I have spent my whole life looking for truths. Truths are a funny thing. You don't know why an idea or concept may be true, but you feel it in your bones. For me I find this to be a truth. The more you serve others the greater your life will be. I do not know much, but I know this.