Posted on February 7, 2020
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“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
There is a Chinese saying: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want it for a day, go fishing. If you want it for a year, inherit a fortune, but 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. Giving back is as good for you as it is for those you are helping, because giving gives you purpose. Goldie Hawn, the famous American actress put’s it aptly, “When you have a purpose-driven life, you’re a happier person”. And so we learn early: It is better to give than to receive.
Is there a deeper truth behind this and what does it actually mean to serve?
Soldiers serve to defend their country. Politicians serve their constituency. Police officers serve the local community. These examples have one thing in common: they are carrying out a duty, often as a career path for which they expect to be remunerated. Serving by freely giving of yourself, your time and your resources to help others is a different matter and is the focus of this blog article.
It’s important to remember that serving (or giving) doesn’t always feel great. The opposite could very well be true: Giving can make us feel depleted and taken advantage of. An article in Time Magazine – Guide to happiness, captured very well the essence of serving as a secret for a happy life and provided some tips some of which are included in this blog.
Find your passion
Our passion should guide our service, whether it be giving our time or resources. It’s only natural that we will care very much about some causes and not so much about some others, and that’s okay. We are able to serve best what we have a passion for. This does not preclude a desire to support other causes if we believe that it is the right thing to do. Figure out what causes are particularly close to your heart. It will make the work you do for them even more worthwhile.
Giving your time
Time is money. Giving your time is precious. Time is often more valuable to the receiver and more satisfying for the giver than the gift of money. Volunteering is giving your time and your skills without seeking anything in return. This can include participating in events to raise funds for charity or providing a service without charge. These types of giving are precious, particularly for small charities. There are many benefits to volunteering. You connect with others in your area, build new relationships and develop your own sense of purpose. Our lives should be more than going to work, go back home, sleep and wake up to the same routine over and over again. Our innate sense to help others can lead to fruitfulness which is not something to be ignored. There are opportunities to serve in your community. Take note of the charities local to you, find out what they do and how you can help. We don’t all have the same amount of money, but we all do have time on our hands, and can give some of this time to help others—whether that means we devote our lifetime to service, or just give a few hours each day or a few days a year.
Giving to a cause that specifies what they’re going to do with your money will give you more happiness than giving to an umbrella cause where you’re not so sure where your money is going. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving that matters most. If we give only to get something back each time we give, what a dreadful, opportunistic world this would be! Yet if we give because we feel guilty, chances are we will not be
committed over time to the cause. The key is to find the approach that fits us. When we do, then the more we give, the more we stand to gain purpose, meaning and happiness—all of the things that we look for in life but are so hard to find.
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
ACT offers many opportunities to serve and to get involved with our work. From volunteering, to participating in one of our events, creating your own fundraiser event or just telling others – friends, family and colleagues about what we do, all count towards serving. You can sponsor the education of an orphan child or support a widow to generate income in one of the 8 African countries where we work.
Visit our website now to find out more and get involved https://www.africanchildtrust.org.uk/