Laurie boarded a plane in Washington DC, flew 7,400 miles to Rishikesh, and began a life of service for the ashram. Chiraag quit a successful dentistry practice in Australia, flew across the world, and began teaching orphans how to brush their teeth. Shaochen departed the lucrative world of international diplomacy and entered the universe of selfless service by helping people explore yoga. Being in service to others is much more of an attitude than a practice. The glacial shift in this situation becomes a question of what we can give instead of what we can get.
The world is evolving towards a self-centered core. At home, the focus is on what the other person is or is not doing. How much brighter would the world be if we spent the same energy on using our own efforts to create a pleasant and uncluttered place to live? The workplace is plagued with too much to do, not enough resources, and a lack of equitable compensation. Daily endeavors become opportunities to extract instead of platforms to give. These repetitive breakdowns lead to misery and poor relationships. The emptiness comes from the insatiable appetite for what we do not have and cannot control.
Gratitude resides at the other end of this gloomy patch. Sit down and make a list of all the things that are going well in your life. Begin with the often overlooked fact that you are alive. When the focus is on the thankful side of the ledger, oceans of abundance dwarf the false sense that a person, place, or thing will bring you happiness. A genuine appreciation for profusion leads to a reflexive need to give back. The essence of service.
Soon after crossing to the sunnier side of life, you will quickly discover a feeling of inner peace. It is deeply rooted in satisfaction from helping others. Most importantly, service helps you to overcome selfishness. During a ceremony on my recent trip to India the spiritual leader summed it up by saying, “When I becomes we, illness becomes wellness.”
There is no need to shave your head, quit your job, and join a cult in order to start serving others. For a simple taste of the better life, anonymously rake a neighbor’s yard or shovel the snow from their driveway. Start today!