There is undeniable evidence that serving others brings a heightened sense of lasting happiness. Service to others is a pathway to health, meaning and purpose.
Sometimes we need to take care of ourselves first. When we are completely worn down and overwhelmed, it is hard to give authentically. Yet sometimes when we’re down, it is often in service to others that we are lifted up.
How will you know the difference? If you are feeling used, obligated and stressed, it’s probably time to reevaluate your reasons for serving. If you feel like you’ve worked hard but are satisfied, uplifted in the achievements of others and a desire to continue serving, even when thanks doesn’t come your way, you are probably on the right path.
There is a Chinese saying that goes: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” For centuries, the greatest thinkers have suggested the same thing: Happiness is found in helping others.
So now that we know there is a time to serve and we have to decide when to serve, lets find 5 ways we can serve.
1. Visit A Nursing Home.
Day in and day out some of the most treasured people are often forgotten. One visit can spark a smile and fond trip down memory lane. Whether it’s a lesson in history, or words of wisdom, our senior citizens have so much to offer us and our teens. This is a gift in which both parties are truly the recipient!
2. Hand Out Blankets.
There are over half a million homeless people in the United States. Many of those are sleeping on the streets. While a single blanket may seem like a drop in the bucket to the vast level of need, a blanket can keep one person from shivering in the cold. No matter the size of the contribution, when you are on the receiving end it feels big. Plus, teens can learn that it only takes one person to start a domino effect.
3. Beautify the Community.
Spend some time sprucing up the community. Collect litter strewn on curbside, plant some flowers in the park, or throw a fresh coat of paint on fences. Research shows that beautification is a top factor in establishing community attachment and belonging.
4. Help a neighbor.
Too often we neglect those who may need us the most, our neighbors. Whether it’s taking over some warm cookies, mowing a lawn, or offering a night of free babysitting, one simple act can go a long way to make a difference in someone’s day.
Whether it’s serving meals at a homeless shelter, or orchestrating a clothing drive, there are numerous ways for teens get plugged into the community and make a difference. There are even some great sites, such as DoSomething.org that helps teens begin the volunteering process.
One thing to keep in mind when serving is to not over-do it. Many times we get caught up thinking that we have to constantly be doing and helping, but if you stretch yourself too thin, it will do more harm than good. Remember to prioritize and keep a balance in your life.