To Be of Service

To Be of Service
by Starcat

A few months ago, when I was feeling down and depressed, I kept coming across the same piece of advice from different sources. It is simply this: in order to feel better, be of service to someone else. It will take your mind off your problems, increase your gratitude, and boost your confidence. I’ve tried it, and it works.

First, a note of caution: this doesn’t mean to ignore or suppress your feelings. You’ll still need to do the work of healing your emotions. It also doesn’t mean becoming a martyr and doing things for others while neglecting your own well-being. Self-nurturing is a crucial part of becoming whole. And depending on your situation, you may need to reach out yourself and get help. Being of service doesn’t mean you won’t need aid at times.

What it does mean is taking the focus off your pain, even if it’s just for a short period of time. Keeping yourself busy in a way that benefits other beings will give you some space in which to gain a new perspective. When you’re able to reach out with compassion, even from a place that seems dark and heavy, you realize that you’re not alone. We’re all human. We all suffer, and heal, and learn, and struggle, and grow.

If you don’t know where to begin, look around at your own group of friends and family. Maybe someone who’s lonely could use an invitation to share a meal with you. Someone who has been ill might want someone to do her laundry or bake her some cookies. Go for a walk and listen to a friend’s problems. Keep it simple. Don’t try to be something you’re not. You’re not there to be a therapist or to solve their problems. You’re a friend, someone who is there for companionship and understanding, and to lend a helping hand.

When you’re feeling down, try it and see what happens. If you find being of service helps you, branch out and volunteer in the community. Get involved. Use your unique talents and skills to help those in need. It feels good to be of service, and will help you as you emerge from your dark night of the soul.