Picture this: you and a friend meet for coffee. You have great conversation. You talk about dreams, goals, family, and life. You both have incredible lives, amazing husbands, beautiful children, and the things you want are happening. And yet, waking up in the morning induces a sort of panic. The conversation turns to how difficult it is to get out of bed. How you wake up and want to go right back to sleep. You start asking why. Why, when you have everything, do you feel like something is missing? This conversation is a representation of my friend and I. This is our experience, and I know it’s an experience not limited to me. The question comes up in this conversation: how do you solve this? How do I wake up in joy, rather than turmoil?
There are many ways to create mornings that light you up. One of these methods is gratitude. I know it’s preached everywhere but maybe that’s because it can’t go around enough. When you look at your life through eyes of gratitude, you put a new filter on. Rose-colored glasses if you will. It shifts the way you view everything. It takes the conversation from one of ‘I can’t do what needs to be done’ to ‘I am so blessed, and I have a lot do to.’
Consider your children or your job. For the moms out there, your children are simultaneously your greatest blessing and the biggest challenge of your life. Aren’t you grateful you have them though? Can you find gratitude for the challenges they give you, for the growth you get to experience because they are in your world opening up new perspectives on old conversations?
Your job is doing the same. Maybe you hate it. Maybe quitting is the one thing you dream of doing. Can you find something with your job to be grateful for? A co-worker perhaps. Your office. The development and training you’ve received. Anything. The idea isn’t to suck it up and keep going, but to give yourself a different perspective to look from. When you find gratitude for the life you have and the challenges you face, you find power in them. You find courage and strength to keep going. You find fulfillment. Gratitude is an amazing tool.
While gratitude is a great way to shift your perspective on life, service is ultimately where the magic is. When you lose yourself in service, you find yourself in joy. Service is the one thing that truly enables us to get into the world of another and to experience life the way they do.
I want to clarify what service isn’t. Service isn’t doing something for somebody because they asked and you couldn’t say no. In that situation you feel resentment and joy is not your experience. Service isn’t grudgingly stepping up to the plate because it’s your job or what you’re required to do. Again, you experience resentment. Service isn’t wearing yourself so thin that you experience a breaking point and can no longer function in the capacity you’ve chosen for your life.
I also want to clarify what service is. Service is finding compassion, love, and empathy for another such that you want to step in and help improve their life. Service is recognizing pain or suffering and taking part of the burden so they’re not carrying it alone. Service is physically caring for a person because you love them, because you know they will be impacted for the better because of your actions. Service is listening. Service is caring. Service is empathy. True service is born of love. True love leads to joy. In service you find joy because in service you find yourself.
I hope so. I also want to point out that serving inside a resentment mentality can still be beneficial to another, and most of us will continue operating this way because we just can’t say no to some things. However, you rob yourself of an incredible gift when you look at service through a ‘woe is me’ or victimization mindset. You take your power, give it to another, and then resent them for it. How does that serve you? The answer: it doesn’t.
Let’s shift gears here for a minute and look at true examples of service. Gandhi, one of my favorites, devotes his life to service. He gives everything he is for a vision bigger than himself. He transforms India. Why? Because he loves his people. Because he desires freedom for them. The beauty of his story is that his experience is one of joy and fulfillment. He experiences hardships and struggles, but ultimately the man is the epitome of peace and compassion.
Corrie ten Boom is another. She is a beautiful example of service. While imprisoned in a concentration camp she brings faith and healing to the people around her. Upon release she continues to do so. She devotes her life to others, sharing of herself in such a way that they experience themselves as greater than they believe themselves to be. Her life is one of joy, love, and fulfillment, and it was all done in service out of her love for the people she shares this earth with.
Can you see where I am with this? It’s not about grudgingly helping out when asked or because required. It’s about shifting your world view in such a way that your first thought in the morning becomes ‘where can I serve?’ Can you imagine a world where every person looks at their fellow man through rose colored glasses of gratitude, acceptance, love, and service? In that Utopian view, everything shifts.
So I challenge you today. Where can you serve? Where can you extend the arms of love and acceptance? Do it and share with me your experience! I would love to hear it.