Serve Your Self. How Serving Others, Serves You.
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.
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.
IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE EVERYONE SERVES THEIR SELVES BY SERVING OTHERS.
Take it from Dr. Sylvia
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