How often do we see people taking selfies while working in a soup kitchen during the holiday season? Is this a true act of service, or is it intended to boost their self-importance?
What is a true act of service? Is it throwing ourselves under the bus for others? Could it be taking selfies as we feed the homeless during Thanksgiving week? Or is it knowing of the love found deep within us, then sharing this love without conditions or expectations?
Many teachings advise selfless service as a way to reach higher realms of spirituality. The key word is selfless. Is selfless defined as no regard for our own well-being? Or is it being of service without the expectation of a reward for our good deeds? I believe it is the latter, no expectation of a reward.
There was a time I volunteered at the local high school woodshop. I have been a woodworker for much of my life. I enjoyed sharing my knowledge with the students while helping them build beds, nightstands, and desks. It was thrilling to see pieces of furniture come to life from a drawing. My intention was to give my wisdom without the expectation of a reward. The act of sharing my skills was the reward in itself.
Many people will share their gifts with the world, yet they want something in return. This expectation diminishes the meaning of true service. Can’t we give from our heart without seeking validation? Could it be sharing our gift is enough without some form of outside compensation?
One of the challenges with service, is making our actions a true gift. Do we give for the sake of giving? Or do we give with the intention of getting something in return? It is our intention that determines if our actions are a true service.
We may think there is a fine line between the two, and the might be. Yet our expectations will impact the way we behave when we are in the act of service. When we learn to love ourselves, we also learn to release our need for outside validation. Yes, we all enjoy hearing a compliment or a thank you, but if one is not given how will we react? Will we be wrecked emotionally, or will we carry on, knowing that everyone is doing their best.
The word detachment could be used when we think of selfless. Are we detached from an expected outcome? Can we detach ourselves from the need to take a selfie while we drop money in a beggar’s cup? Wouldn’t it be easier to love ourselves enough to help without the need to validate our actions of service?
Truthfully, I loved being in the high school woodshop. I felt at home with the smell of fresh cut wood, the noise of the machines, and the joy on the students faces when their furniture was complete. That was the reward, bringing me joy and a sense of purpose. That was my selfless act of service. I expected nothing in return, but what I received from my time with the students was better than any physical reward I could imagine.
Can we love ourselves enough so our acts of service are the reward in itself with no expectation of outside validation? It will all depend on how we define selfless.
What is your definition of selfless service? The conversation is always evolving, click on the leave a question or comment below, I’d enjoy hearing from you.
Each week I email an article to those who have subscribed to my weekly. This week I wrote about the importance of acknowledging our small successes. Here is an excerpt.
Our small successes can be the foundation for bigger and better things. The challenge becomes acknowledging them. We often want to see the view from the top of the mountain, yet at first we may not have the stamina to accomplish that goal.
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As you know my wife and I are in the process of moving from beautiful Colorado to the high grasslands of Southern Arizona. Colorado has been amazing to us, meeting many great people, discovering a part of ourselves we didn’t know existed, along with strengthening our relationship. I am forever grateful for those who helped us call this beautiful mountain valley home.
I will continue to write my weekly, my blog, my column for Conscious Shift Magazine as well as continue working on my next book. I’ll keep you posted, but for now, I’m somewhere between Colorado and Arizona.
In the May issue of Conscious Shift Magazine you will find my article,
“Handcuffs." Do we handcuff ourselves from living to the fullness of who we are?
Click the link to read more.
Check out Conscious Shift Magazine, a great resource for guidance and inspiration.
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Peace and Well-Being, Paul
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