It’s Sunday, late afternoon. Resentment sets in as you start thinking about all the stuff you still haven’t gotten done this weekend, and now the weekend’s over. You have from now until bed to finish the laundry, get dinner on the table, pack lunches, return emails and phone calls, and figure out what you’re going to wear tomorrow.
You know you should do the right thing and turn the light out at 10. But you just want a few more minutes of freedom before it’s back to the grind. You shut the TV off later than you know you should have, and now you’re ready for sleep. Well, your brain is. Your mind is wide awake.
Now it’s after midnight, and all you can think about is how awful you’re going to feel tomorrow. That, and how much you dread Mondays. You start wondering, Why does every day feel the same? Wake up feeling like crap, rush around trying to get out of the house and go to work, just so I can come home and take care of everyone else, and hope for a few minutes of peaceful TV time before I do it all over again? Is this really my life??
Yes, it is your life—but it doesn’t have to be.
The difference between existing and really living is having a sense of purpose, or meaning, in your life, which you gain through being of service to others.
Giving of yourself doesn’t mean you have to log hours at the local soup kitchen or animal shelter. There is no one right way to help others, and you don’t have to do it for free. There’s also no one group that you have to help – it can be anyone at all, even those who aren’t needy. The best thing to do is incorporate what you’re passionate about so you’re really bringing your heart into it, because that’s when you’ll get the most out of it.
If you’re concerned that what you’re passionate about isn’t of help to others, take a moment to see if that’s really true, because I’d bet it’s not. If you love photography, then you can create a lasting memory for a family. If you’re a painter, you can bring beauty into people’s lives. If you’re a writer, you’re also a teacher or entertainer.
When you spend time doing something that matters to you and helps others, in any capacity, you find that sense of fulfillment and purpose that all people long for. You gain that sense of connectedness to your community and your world that we all need.
If we just go through the motions every day, we’ll always be looking for something else to make us happy or satisfy us. But, if we dedicate at least some part of our lives to the service of others, then we’re on an incredible journey that never ends. We find we have a direction, a goal we’ll always be pursuing—and that chase is anything but routine. We’ll always be learning and growing. The old adage is true: The more you give, the more you receive. And that makes us rich beyond measure.