Saturday, June 29, 2013

Why Give, Why Serve?

The featured cover story in Time Magazine for June 26, 2013 is entitled: How Service Can Save Us. In it, columnist Joe Klein observes and discusses the phenomenon that U.S. Military Veterans who return home from the battlefield have a much easier time adapting to civilian life if they serve in some capacity. It seems that being part of something larger than themselves truly helps many overcome Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, becoming happier in the process.

Recent psychological studies coming out of Harvard University are confirming that serving others helps bring about happiness and success.  In a humorous and engaging 12 minute TED talk entitled “The Happy Secret To Better Work,” Shawn Achor tells his audience that success does not bring happiness, but rather, the reverse is true— happiness brings success. He’s written a book about this inversion of our view of success entitled The Happiness Advantage. In it he suggests “rewiring” your brain for happiness by practicing these five disciplines:
  1. Write down each day three things that you are grateful for.
  2. Relive a good moment by journaling about it briefly in a paragraph.
  3. Perform an intentional or random act of kindness for someone.
  4. Exercise.
  5. Meditate (pray).
Larry and me in New Hampshire, 2003
Each year, I organize and ride in a bicycle ride entitled "The Central Coast Century." I do it in memory of my brother Larry, who died of ALS, (Lou Gehrig's Disease) in October of 2007.  His death profoundly changed my life—and the lives of those close to him.  That’s why I ride.  I don’t want anyone else to go through what we went through.  I want to help find a cure.  I find great meaning in serving in this manner, outside my normal routine.

What about you?  What do you do to serve others? How do you handle the paradox that when you give, you receive?  Leave a comment—and let me know.


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