Recently, I was asked more than 100 teens to answer, “What do you personally get out of serving others?” It was a difficult question. Talk about what I get? Share with others? Yikes, how uncomfortable! Then I would need to explain it to South Tahoe High School students that are just learning the concept of service. Double yikes!I managed to share with them, so I will attempt to answer this question with you as we turn the page from 2012 to 2013. With New Year’s resolutions just around the corner, I hope your list might include service to others. Here are the top five things I get from service:1. Satisfaction of achievement from doing something bigger than myself. I believe that we are programmed as humans to achieve things bigger and greater than ourselves. Achievement gives purpose to our lives. Think about this concept for a moment: Could civilization survive without this drive to achieve something beyond ourselves? Would we ever have children, build businesses, invent something new to make life easier, write the next great book, discover the cure for cancer, fight for freedom if we only thought of ourselves? Service is that opportunity to accomplish something bigger. 2. Through service I was able to figure out who I am and what I stand for. A turning point for me was the morning I read in the newspaper about a child beaten by his own parents. He died. This child had no voice to tell others what was happening to him and how dangerous it was for him to be with his parents. I said to myself, “If I ever have a chance to be a voice for kids, I will. That is something I can do.” In that moment, I realized part of who I was, a voice for children. Figuring myself out has defined my service. What do I care about? Who am I? How do I want to spend my time? 3. Feeling filled up, or fulfillment. I can be creative, implement new ideas, be passionate, assertive, think out of the box, make decisions, bring change to my community and my world, all of which bring a sense fulfillment. I am filled to the top when I see the smile of appreciation, or hear a sincere “thank you.” I burst with fulfillment when I see my idea or hard work result in something wonderful. 4. Service allows me to step outside of myself and focus on the bigger picture. Think about the amount of time we each spend worrying. It can feel overwhelming and depressing to think of personal issues and problems. A simple solution to this is service to others! I don’t think about any of this while cooking for 200 hungry people at Bread & Broth. While soothing a child that only has the clothes on her back as she moves to a foster home, I stop thinking of my bad day. Personal problems magically fade away when we focus on helping others that need us to be there. 5. Happiness. This may sound a little corny but, when serving others, I like myself and liking myself brings happiness. Now, a single event may make a person feel happy in the moment, but happiness is a state of being. My happiness comes from creating something bigger than myself, having a strong self identity, being fulfilled and stepping outside to focus on the bigger picture. Well, that is what is in it for me when I serve others. Happy New Year and may it be a year where you can answer, “What’s in it for me?” — For more information about CASA, call 530-573-3072.
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