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Serve Your Self. How Serving Others, Serves You.

Updated on May 12, 2014

Serving and giving to others has many physical and psychological health benefits.


In the video below Dr. Barry Ramo explains the health benefits of volunteering your time.

* Please note:* Embedding for this video has been disabled. Please click the link on the video screen to watch this video on YouTube

In a world where self help, self service, self-awareness, and self-satisfaction are sold as the answers for everything, why should we bother to continue serving others?

Every time I turn around, I am hearing and seeing messages such as, “To each his own,” “Every man for himself”and“Self-Awareness is the key to success.” Why is it that so many success coaches are teaching us to become self-absorbed in order to achieve our goals? They instruct us to focus our minds on what we want to have, and the way we want to feel, and claim that in doing this, all of our desires will become reality.

The subject of this article may seem a little contradictory to the other ones I have written. After all, self- help has been my focus for the last seven years. I even published another article on the benefits of positive affirmations, and I mention the “law of attraction” in several others. However, I do wish to point out that becoming completely self centered can be just as, or even more damaging than neglecting your own needs for the benefit of someone else.

Please understand as you read my articles that I am not suggesting that you should go to an extreme in either direction. One of the most important things I have learned as I have traveled down the road of mental health recovery is that you cannot neglect yourself, because when you do, you deprive yourself of vital time and energy to give to others. In turn, neglecting others leads to depriving yourself of vital physical and emotional benefits.

The Physical Benefits of Serving Others

It Repairs Our Chromosomes

A scientific study conducted by Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, at the University of California, revealed that when we serve others we release an enzyme called Telomerase.

Telomerase is the only known substance that repairs the caps on the ends of our chromosomes, which prevents them from fraying. When the ends of our chromosomes fray, we begin the aging process. The outcome of Dr. Blackburn’s study seemed to confirm that the safest way to release this powerful enzyme is to perform acts of compassion, and charity.

It Boosts Our Immune Systems

Another benefit of serving others is the boost to the immune system we get from physical contact, and emotional bonds with other human beings. As a species, we were created to live in large groups. It has only been within the last one hundred years that people have left the tight knit community way of living, and started living in single-family homes while striving for self-sufficiency, and self-satisfaction. The results are self-explanatory.

As a society, we have become more unhappy and unhealthy than ever. Trying to remain self-centered and completely self-serving has lead to several physical, mental and emotional illnesses in our society. Environment factors also play a part in creating these epidemics, but some studies suggest that a greater sense of community and compassion would help us better adapt to our toxic surroundings.

The 12 Step Perspective of Serving Others


In any 12 step program, service is an important part of achieving your recovery goals. This is because turning your focus to helping other people in need, helps a person see how insignificant their own needs and desires can be in comparison.

This helps to minimize the addict’s tendency obsess over their substance of choice so much that it overshadows every other aspect in their lives. Serving others gives people a new perspective on the importance of their own problems, and an overall sense of purpose.


When a person begins to realize that they can make small positive changes in the lives of others, it decreases their need for artificial pleasures such as drugs and alcohol. This creates lasting pleasure that also helps reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.

Spiritual Fulfillment

Since 12 step programs are built using Biblical principals, the act of serving others is also suggested in order to fulfill our spiritual needs, which in turn nurtures our mental and emotional health. Scripture commands us to love God, and love others as we love ourselves. This is described as the whole of the law. Serving is one of the purest forms of love.

Discovering this information was liberating for me. It completely erased my fear of being taken advantage of, because I realized that I no longer need to expect anything in return for my acts of kindness. Kindness itself was created with natural rewards.

What to Serve



Time is one of the most precious gifts you can give, because once you give your time, you can never get it back. For instance, when a parent gives their child just 30 extra minutes of time per day, the child begins to have more success in school, and other social environments.



Sharing your knowledge, positive experiences, and spiritual testimonies with others is extremely important. It not only reminds you of your blessings successes, but it can also provide the much-needed hope that someone else has been seeking.



Sometimes other people do not need their problems solved for them, but they need someone to listen, and let them sort things out on their own. A hug is also an invaluable gift to give. Giving and receiving hugs helps build our immune systems, and improve our mood. One of my favorite pearls of wisdom is that you cannot give a hug without receiving one.



A resource is anything that provides for a person’s needs. This can be a cup of sugar, a phone number to a local charity, a dollar, a blanket, a cup of water, a place to sleep, and so on.

Whatever you have an abundance of, give it to someone who has need. I recently made a standard for myself, to “pay it forward” whenever I am given something. I do not necessarily give back to the person that gave to me, but I try to find someone else in need at that time.


Take it from Dr. Sylvia


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I genuinely enjoy studying on this website, it holds good content. Never fight an inanimate object. by P. J. O'Rourke. bdgedbagedfd

    • healthwealthmusic profile image

      Ruth R. Martin 

      6 years ago from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York

      Another deep topic :) one that is sadly much in lack in our world of today. Facts do show that serving others is beneficial in many ways. From the beginning of time, man has been selfish and self-serving. It is human nature. But that only means that we need to work hard at overcoming our human nature and practice living unselfishly, in a Christ-like manner :) ~ Ruth

    • zionsphere profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oregon

      Thank you toknowinfo :) This information has been on my mind for a really long time. Elizabeth Blackburn's research was very thought provoking, and seems to be the answer to the damage that stress does to our chromosomes.

    • toknowinfo profile image


      6 years ago

      This is a very well done hub. It really feels good to help others, and you explained this very well. Thanks for putting this enjoyable article together. Rated up and interesting.

    • zionsphere profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oregon

      Thank you always exploring.

      A village is right! What ever happened to "it takes a village to raise a child?" Is it possible that our children are so corrupt because they are no longer taught about giving to others? Now it seems to always be about who has the latest ipad with our kids. It makes me wonder what will happen when the youth takes over.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Your article is a wonderful reminder that we are a village and to lend a helping hand is what we do. Thank you..

    • zionsphere profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oregon

      Thank you billybuc.

      That's okay... in that case, nothing needs to change :)

    • zionsphere profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oregon

      Thank you allsynergy. Yes, I tried to mention the importance of not going to an extreme in either direction. Life is really all about give, AND take. Without taking our own needs into consideration, we simply lack the ability to help anyone else.

    • zionsphere profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oregon

      You're welcome hawaiianodyesseus! I was impressed with the irony of that too. Very good movie in terms of sending the message that human have become less than humane.

    • zionsphere profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oregon

      Thank you Posts. I agree. I think being human is a lost art. It seems that many people would rather be machines, or of a larger machine. Where has the compassion gone?

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I was raised to help others; kind of late in the game of life for me to change now. :) Great hub!

    • allsynergy profile image


      6 years ago from Finland

      Great Hub! I was trying to express something similar with my unfinished Hub but I never seem to find time to finish it. I kind of was pondering it other way around myself. It is indeed good to care for others... but one should care for yourself as well.. otherwise there's no strength left to help others.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      6 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      I like this Hub! It serves as a gentle reminder of the basic things in life.

      When I watched the movie, "Avatar," I was impressed with the ironic presentation of an alien species that was more other-centered, kind, compassionate and humane than the human beings.

      Thank you for the wonderful lesson here that there are actual physiological and chemical benefits as a result of choosing to serve others.

    • posts profile image


      6 years ago

      Well, very informative hub. i am also being engaged in the field of personal growth and self development and i agree some points in this hub. Self centered attitude should not be the focus term if we want to develop ourselves to the fullest. Helping attitude normally opens up our heart and spread the love and makes us charismatic. Apart of this, the more we help others without the expectation of any kind of return, we unknowingly are helping self. This attitude generally purifies our negativity and improves our self esteem and definitely makes us more sound as a physical, mental and spiritual level. We all know and focus we are "HUMAN BEING". How about thinking "BEING HUMAN"....


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