Leading An Inspired Life Through Service
The co-owners of B-Well Center of Scottsdale discuss how service provides more meaning and fulfillment
Service to those in need has a way of inspiring the hearts and minds of everyone—the one doing the service, the one being served and the one witnessing the service. It inspires the minds of others in a very concrete way by simply showing them service can be a way of life. By example, it also teaches that this way to live life can be an inspired life, no matter the size or kind of service.
Service comes in many forms; a simple smile or the opening of a door, as well as actual volunteer works. Service inspires the hearts of others by simply letting them know that someone cares by the giving of their time. This care can open their heart to the possibilities of their own caring and nurturing nature and inspire them to do the same.
Time, not money, is invaluable. Without the giving of our time, the money is just a piece of paper or a number in a computer. We often don’t realize the value of our time until we are about to transition out of this life or someone we love has transitioned.
The Buddhists teach that it is our thoughts, words and actions that bring us to our next incarnation and the more pure those are, the better life we can achieve in our next incarnation. Most religions expound a similar philosophy. Actions are clearly tied to the betterment of one’s self in these religious contexts, especially service-orientated actions.
Terry Yum and Elizabeth Lightfoot, in their study, “The Effects of Volunteering on the Physical Health and Mental Health of Older People,” showed that volunteering slows the decline in self-reported health and functioning levels, slows the increase in depression levels and improves mortality rates for those that volunteer.
Further expanding this notion of service action, many religions also believe that it is not just service, but selfless service that will directly impact our next life. Buddhists particularly believe that it is not only our action, but also our motivation for doing an action that will directly affect our next life. Consequently, someone that is doing service to be recognized may actually receive demerits, rather than merits for their service. It is the selfless server that will receive the merits that will result in a better life in their next incarnation.
There have also been scientific studies that show motivation does have a direct effect on the person doing the service. Sara Konrath, Andrea Fuhrel Forbis, Alina Lou and Stephanie Brown, in their study, “Motives for Volunteering are Associated with Mortality Risk in Older Adult,” show that those that volunteered for self-oriented reasons had a mortality risk similar to non-volunteers. Those that volunteered for other-oriented reasons had a decreased mortality risk.
It is clear that science is beginning to discover what the ancient religions and teachings have been saying all along about service to others, particularly selfless service. Derek O’Neill, a transformational therapist, humanitarian and celebrity ambassador to Variety International, the Children’s Charity, a global organization, remarks, “Service will bring you joy. When you're serving you're eliminating anger, when you're serving you're eliminating jealousy, when you're serving you're eliminating all the five poisons. Do you know why? How could you be jealous of somebody who has less than you? Not possible. How could you be angry with a starving child because they're crying? Not possible. That's why service is your way.”
It would appear that service not only benefits those that are being served, but it also benefits the server from scientific, religious and philosophical perspectives. Studies show that service to others results in better health physically and psychologically. Additionally, it would also be prudent that the server check their motivation for doing the service and the more “other-oriented” the motivation, the more benefits the server receives. What is given seems to be returned in the package it was given. One thing seems to be certain, and that is selfless service to others is the gift that keeps on giving. Mother Theresa said it simply by saying, “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving,” and “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
The authors are the co-founders of the B-Well Center of Scottsdale. For more information, call 602-384-1745 or visit B-WellCenterofScottsdale.com.