How can we make the world a better place? We can make the world a better place by asking ourselves, “Am I serving others?” and actually deciding to do so instead of just serving ourselves. It’s really very simple, though probably easier said than done for most people. I know this is the case for me. It’s difficult to focus on others well-being if we have learned that our individuality and independence is the top priority and concern. We may view others with pity and be afraid of people who are different than us, or we may simply forget how integral kindness and service is for social cohesion. Every moment and encounter offers the opportunity to connect with others through compassion and empathy. We come into contact with others for a reason, and this got me thinking, how many times have I had a chance to change someone else’s life for the better but passed up this opportunity? Who have you had a chance to help but didn’t heed the call? Whether you have passed up a chance to impact the life of someone else, or didn’t listen when someone was trying to help you, there will opportunities to live out this natural love and warmth going forward. Here are a few suggestions on how to do so.
Are you taking relationships for granted?
There are so many people who have made a huge impact in my life, even if it was in a single moment. There have also been people who really tried to help and provide great things for me, but sadly I didn’t recognize and connect with these divine moments. I now realize how essential it is to be proactive with every encounter. This means being willing to communicate and being open about our feelings and desires. It also means being willing to accept set-backs and greet them with a sense of empowerment and faith that “we” will get through this together. Not taking relationships for granted is about striving for interdependence, which is the idea that we rely on mutual support and assistance. Each of us can provide beneficial growth and improvement to each other, and we can be better off because of our relationship.
Are you always focusing on your personal gain?
There are many instances where I have been self-absorbed and didn’t recognize the intimate connection I had with others. Human beings are interdependent despite our willingness to recognize this connection. For instance, let’s say you eat an apple. Think of all the connections this apple has to other people. Somewhere a seed was planted; this seed was tended to and nurtured as it grew into a tree. This tree was harvested and the fruits were passed along to someone else who transported them to a market where it was stocked. At this point you came along and purchased it. Without all of these integral links in the chain this apple would not be possible for your consumption. When we step outside of our personal bubble we can begin to experience a connection that before was overlooked. This can offer us greater joy by being engaged in helping others and getting involved in their life, and we will see our personal wealth and satisfaction expand immensely. If you are interested in serving others here are a few traits to develop. Empathy – Being able to tune into the thoughts and emotions of others. This allows us to recognize and be aware of what is taking place in another person’s life. Compassion – Connecting with others pain and plight in a way that allows us to take action to help is crucial for service. We can realize we are not separate from others suffering and can aspire to transform their suffering. Patience – This includes dedication and commitment to others, and learning to deal with problems and uncertainty in a productive manner. It also includes not have to have immediate gratification for ourselves. Integrity – How would you describe your moral and ethical character? Our level of integrity says much about this. Do we do what we say we are going to do? Do we follow through and stay accountable to others and our personal values? Courage – It isn’t always easy to serve others. It may bring us difficulty and pain. It can take some real courage and the willingness to face our fears and deal with adversity. Serving others may lead us to risk our personal gain for the betterment of everyone involved.
Can you accept others for who they are?
It’s easy to be judgmental and critical of others because they aren’t doing their part or aren’t acting as they “should.” When we take this approach we are less likely to do our part to help them. It becomes easy to view people with disdain and pass a prejudgment before we know them fully. Respecting differences in values and opinions and being willing to make adjustments when necessary takes some flexibility and release of control. Our relationships in all forms reflect who we are as a person. As we grow and shift in our view of how we relate to others we can begin to overcome the “me-first” attitude and have stronger and healthier relationships. We can begin to love more fully and be open to powerful interpersonal opportunities. Go forward realizing how you can contribute to others and keep your awareness open to the purpose and meaning of every relation you encounter. I would love to hear from you! How have you impacted someone else’s life? How has some positively impacted your life? What can we do to develop a greater connection to others in our community and neighborhood? Photo credit: seanmcgrath