If you are feeling depressed, lonely, unfulfilled or anxious (and frankly, who isn’t these days?) the one unfailing antidote is to find a way to be of service in the world. Volunteering your time and energy to help another being is the surefire way to get out of your own headspace for at least a few moments. When we are caught up in uncomfortable feelings or negative thoughts, our minds get trapped in a vicious cycle that keeps repeating itself. This is just the way our minds are wired, but doing something to break the cycle will give you some respite from that nagging self-talk, and over time the benefits might surpass anything you could get in a prescription bottle.
There have been several such periods in my life and finding a way to contribute not only brought me back into balance, it also opened up a whole new world of opportunities; My work at Headstart inspired me to create the Fairy Line Naturals line; during my time with HeadStart I got to watch a very special and beautiful little girl heal and blossom, and although her family has moved away, we are still in touch; in my docent tours at the Florida Holocaust Museum I get to share my mother’s personal holocaust history, so that even though she has been gone for 25 years this month, her story goes on.
Last week my husband, Jeff, and I had a meeting at Cypress Palms in Largo, an assisted living community that specializes in Parkinson’s disease care. One of the men, Ken F., excused himself as the meeting was drawing to a close as he had a commitment to visit with one of the residents in the gym. We went to visit the gym facility and met Jim, a 53-year old man who developed rapid deterioration Parkinson’s at only 45. His illness has terminated many things he loved in his life, including a successful landscape business, but when he engages in certain activities, such as playing ball or bicycling, he is almost back to “his old self” and has more control over his tremors and extremities – one of the mysteries of the disease that indicates that there is still much research to be done. Ken, who also suffers from a manageable case of Parkinson’s, writes an informative blog that is a great service to that community.
Later that evening I was reflecting on how touched I was by Ken’s commitment to Jim; It occurred to me that the impact we have on another’s life when we perform an act of selfless service, is incalculable. What better way to get out of feeling sorry for ourselves or ruminating on what we perceive is lacking in our lives, than to share our time, companionship, resources or energy with another being who could benefit enormously from our service?
Interestingly, I believe that the connection that brought Jeff and I together was that we are both very devoted to service. He has done volunteer work at shelters, with Amnesty International, teaching young barrio men how to channel their ambitions by playing hockey, and with WW2 veterans. Every one of these experienced have enriched his life. You never know who you will meet when you offer yourself in service and what amazing opportunities will find you.
This holiday season consider that perhaps the greatest gift you can invest in would be to your own soul, by putting yourself in service to someone or something that would benefit from the blessings of YOU.
(Image from www.dragoart.com)
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