Some days I just feel blah. Do you ever get that way? And I think- I have so much to be happy about – why don’t I feel very happy? Other times, life is just rough and I have legitimate reasons to feel depressed. Well, I learned an important lesson about what to do on those days a few years ago when I discovered the key to pulling myself out of of blah-dom if you will. It really is the key to true happiness and it is something you can do the minute you start to feel lousy to lift your spirits. It works whether you have a legitimate reason to feel lousy or not. And I guarantee, the people in your life who just seem to always be happy are masters at it.
The key, the secret, and the quickest route to happiness is service. It is that simple. Whenever I am feeling blah or miserable, I take a minute and figure out what I’ve have been focusing my thoughts on. I usually find I have been focusing on doing things to entertain or serve myself, or I am focusing on all the things that are going wrong in my life. If I take a minute and force myself to look outside myself and see who around me needs a lift, who has struggles who make mine look miniscule, who is hurting more than I am, and then actively do something to make their life better, their day brighter, or their load lighter, I find that the blah-ness, or even the anguish I am feeling quickly dissipates and joy is left in its place.
I know this is true because it works every time I do it without fail. I learned this valuable lesson in a very powerful way when I was going through a rough patch in my life, which, admittedly, was nothing compared to other’s rough patches, but I was letting it get to me. My husband had just been forced to close his business and we were left with debts we couldn’t pay and the uncertaintly of what direction to go now. People were spreading rumors about my husband that weren’t true and that was more painful for me than if they had been spreading them about me.
Right about this time, my 90-year-old grandmother was to the point that she needed to have in-home care if she was going to be able to continue living at home alone. My parents were away on a mission, so my mother was unable to help her sisters take care of her mother. I decided to see if I could help care for her in my mother’s place. I arranged with my aunts to come help take care of her twice a week. It was a very sweet experience that I will always be grateful for. Two of my aunts had major health issues come up right about this time that made it so they couldn’t leave their homes for a little while. I decided to stop and visit them as well and see if they needed any help. And an amazing thing happened. I don’t feel like I did a whole lot to help my aunts and my grandma, but changing my focus to helping them made my burdens soooo much lighter and I felt happy. I had less time to sit around a worry about the challenges in my life, and I would come away from helping them with a better perspective on life that helped me keep my blessings at the forefront of my mind instead of my struggles.
I truly believe we were created to LOVE. We are children of a God who loves beyond our comprehension and because of this we are hard wired to want to love and feel loved. When we are not doing what we were created to do, we cannot feel joy. Selfishness and self-centeredness will never equal happiness. But the minute we extend our love to someone else in anyway, joy will fill our hearts because we are being true to what we were created to do.
Service is the quickest, easiest way to develop love for a person. Think about the most meaningful, loving relationships you have in your life. If you look back on your history with that person, you will find that your relationship was built on a myriad of moments where you lifted and served each other. Service creates bonds between human beings that are difficult to break.
Sometimes we think serving someone else has to be something big and so we don’t act because we think we don’t have time or don’t know where to go or what to do to serve. But, sometimes the most meaningful and powerful acts of service are small things. My wonderful neighbor said, “Even just sending someone a text to let them know you are thinking about them and that they are worth thinking about can be a powerful form of service.” I love that! There is always something you can do right this moment to lift someone else, which will in turn lift you out of the doldrums and fill you with joy and purpose again. In fact, most of us spend the majority of our day serving our family, but we tend to rob ourselves of the joy it could bring us because we look at it as drudgery- mundane tasks that we have to do– instead of service we are offering our family because we love them. Just a shift in perspective is so often the difference between joy and misery.
It is sad to watch so many in our society focusing all their time and energy on acquiring wealth and things, or on improving their social or professional status in an attempt to feel truly happy. Money and popularity can certainly make life a little easier and more comfortable, but ease and comfort do not equal happiness. Truly happy people are happy independent of their circumstances because they are masters at keeping the right perspective on life and focus each day on making their lives meaningful in the lives of other people. In this simple way, no matter who you are or what life is throwing at you, everyday you have the power to choose happiness.
**This post is not intended to deny the reality of clinical depression and other debilitating mental conditions. My heart goes out to all those who are suffering in this way. There are definitely times when service alone cannot fix the problem.
Check out this fantastic post from Karine with great ideas for service: Spread Good in the World Daily
Kristina at Mothersniche.com has a great idea to lift those who are suffering you should check out as well.