We often wonder about what can make us happier, or “What is the purpose of it all?” A lot of us (I’ll speak for myself) have gone through some pretty painful experiences. Also very joyful ones. Sometimes we wonder, “What’s the whole point of this being human thing?” It’s being in service.
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Most Buddhists, and most people on a spiritual path believe, and I certainly believe that as human beings, one of the things we’re meant to do is we’re meant to be in service. We’re meant to be in service to each other. We’re meant to create. We’re meant to do something or create or make the world a better place. Make other people’s lives better, you name it.
For example, people who might be completely financially set how they often will take the fact that they’re financially set and continue to do work to make our planet a better place and make other people’s lives better.
I’m filming this from the disaster of my messy kitchen today. (One) of the reasons why it’s such a disaster is my very dear friend is having a party this weekend. In my family village we created in our neighborhood, amongst our group of friends, is that when we have a party, we sometimes like to have a theme.
One of the epic parties we had at our house was the Wizard of Oz Halloween themed party. When my group of friends, my family village create a party, each of us brings something to that party. We all have different skills, talents, abilities, inabilities, you name it.
How can I be in service?
Of those of my friends who are crafty will be able to bring a certain flare to the party, and decorate in a way that makes the party house look really great – I’m not an artsy type or a crafty type. At all. The one thing I can do is I’m pretty good is making big, tasty food with love.
My contribution and me being in service to this party is there’s a set up going on tonight. I’m going to bring over a ginormous vat of vegetarian, gluten-free pasta sauce. And I’m going to bring over some gluten free pasta so that I can at least feed the crew who are setting up the party.
What I’m not so good at is I can’t build stuff – that’s not my thing. I’m not the best tidier – that’s not my thing. I’m not the kind of person who notices if the room is out of order or imperfect. But the one thing I know I can contribute is a big pot of pasta.
When friends get together, whether it be a picnic or a party or an event. What can happen is everyone can contribute what they are good at contributing to.
So next time you have a gathering, or when you’re attending a gathering, or when you’re moving through your day, think about “How can I be in service to those around me?” “How can I be in service to the people I come across? To my coworkers, to my children to my spouse, to the people I live with?” Or even being in service in a line up at the ice cream store.
We were getting really intense about ice cream
Quick story: I was at the ice cream store. There’s this really tasty ice cream in Victoria called Parachute Ice Cream. I might have gone there like maybe 6 times in the last 8 days (okay yeah, it’s a bit of an addiction). I was standing in the lineup and they have all these different flavours every day like Cinnamon Vanilla, and London Fog, and Birthday Cake (which has actual pieces of birthday cake).
I was standing there talking to this person and her boyfriend in the lineup getting super excited to try the flavours, asking to taste them. We’re getting a little intense, and her boyfriend goes, “Wow, were you two separated at birth or what?” We just really grooved with each other while we were standing in the lineup. Of course, the person who served us ultimately said, “So, will that be all together then?” Assuming we were together even though we’d never met in our lives.
Even just that little interaction was a way of being in service. That person who I’d never met – she was in service to me, and I was in service to her, simply by hanging out and having a good time at the ice cream counter. That actually brightened my day, and I hope it brightened hers.
We change when we’re around other people
We know that biochemically we actually change when we’re around other people, and in a good way. So when we’re standing in that lineup, instead of standing there staring at the ceiling, or fantasizing what our ice cream will be, not paying attention or connecting to the people around us, that can be an opportunity lost. Particularly for those of us who feel lonely when we don’t live with very many people or live on our own.
What happens is when we’re out there connecting with people in a lineup, at the coffee shop, that actually feeds our biochemical needs and it’s good for us. Even good for introverts.
From my home to yours,