What does service mean to you? For some of us, we immediately think of people like Mother Theresa, who sacrificed her entire life for less fortunate people, or Bill Gates who donated billions of dollars to cure diseases. We think of professions such as a nurse, doctor, and teacher.
But the reality is that you don’t have to be a millionaire, a doctor, or an everyday volunteer to be of service to humanity. You don’t have to save lives or donate 50 percent of your salary to a charity. Being of service simply means making the world a better place, even if it’s just for one person. Here are some simple ways we can be of service every single day.
Smile and say hi.
It may sound cheesy, but trying smiling more often, even if it’s on a Monday morning commute. You never know whose day it may cheer up. Strike up conversations with strangers, and give them compliments. When I was depressed a few years ago, I remembered a day when someone came up and remarked on how beautiful my hairstyle was. It didn’t end my depression, but I immediately felt great about myself that whole week.
When you smile and live your life with energy, it can be contagious. Offices are terrific examples of this. If everyone looks depressed, work is boring. If people start joking and laughing, suddenly work doesn’t feel like drudgery. We can all agree we all want to be happy, otherwise, what’s the point of living? Make someone happy, and you’ve made their lives joyful.
Talk to an old friend.
It’s amazing how often we lose in touch with old friends. Take a few minutes to call someone this week that you haven’t talked to in a while. It feels refreshing to get a phone call or a letter from someone who simply states “I’m calling b/c it’s been a long time since we’ve talked.” It is touching to know there is someone out there who is thinking about me.
Organize a social event.
What better way to make others happy than to organize a social event such as a dinner party, or bowling night? Don’t just invite the same old friends—mix it up a little. Invite your co-workers, your close friends, a relative, and tell them to invite friends of their own. Helping others make new friends is invaluable. And it’s also a great way to network, and broaden your connections. It sounds like a win-win situation.
Teach someone a skill.
We all have unique abilities and skills to share with others, so share them! If you’re great at computers, perhaps you can help install anti-virus software on your friend’s computer or offer to upgrade their software. If you’re good at editing, you could help edit your friend’s resumes and give them feedback. If some of your friends are thinking of starting a business, give them some assistance. See if your local community center or retirement home needs someone to teach people skills.
Share your passions with others. I know someone who gives free yoga lessons every weekend at the local park. How would you feel if someone discovered an activity that made their lives happier because of you?
You could sign up to be a mentor in the Boys and Girls Club. Even if you have an hour to spare each weekend, that’s better than nothing. But even if you don’t want to be a professional mentor, you either have children or have relatives that are children. When you’re around them, be a good example to them.
Listen and give the glory to someone else.
Most of us don’t listen when we have a conversation. Sure we may hear the words coming out of their mouth, but in our minds, we are thinking of a witty comeback or a story to tell. To truly listen means thinking about what the person is really saying, and why he is saying it. Instead of retorting with a clever reply, why not give the glory to the person talking? Ask deeper questions that show you’re interested in what he/she has to say. Let people talk about their passions. They’ll think you’re a wonderful person.
Help a friend with health, wealth, or love issues.
It may sound simplistic, but the main concerns people have center around health, wealth, or love. So if you can help them with any of those three areas, you just made their life so much better.
If your friend wants to lose weight, help him/her with diet choices, and workout choices. If a friend is looking for a relationship, ask around and see if you know any other single friends. If a friend has no clue how to invest, explain to him the principles of compound interest.
Service is not just limited to donating millions to charity or building homes in Africa. You don’t have to wait until you’re retired or rich to start being of service. It is something we can do every single day. Even a simple act such as being a good friend, or smiling will make the world a better place.