Being of service is an integral part of the journey toward finding fulfillment.  Think of a time when you participated in making someone’s life better, perhaps when you:

  • Shared something with a friend or student that sparked her interest.
  • Held your child through his tears to his smiles.
  • Provided the support that helped someone through a tough time.
  • Participated in providing a product or service that helped better people’s lives.

Although most people focus on getting love, fulfillment occurs from giving love.  The loving behavior that naturally flows from an open heart makes any activity an opportunity to be of service whether at home or at work.  Many activities begin with loving behavior as an integral part, but being of service often becomes lost as other priorities supercede the behavior that would make the activity fulfilling.  When hearts close: 

  • Getting a spouse and/or children to do what we want becomes more important than meeting their needs. 
  • Making a point becomes more important that really hearing another.
  • Making a profit becomes more important than caring about the lives of clients or employees. 
  • Maintaining power becomes more important than empowering others. 
  • Giving information becomes more important than teaching students to love learning. 
  • Winning takes precedence over the self-esteem of athletes. 

Learning About Being of Service

An openness to learning about being of service begins a most illuminating journey on which you will confront many routine practices that do not serve us in finding fulfillment.  Some of these notions will be used to exemplify the three basic questions on your journey: 1) What does it mean to be of service to yourself?: 2) What does it mean to be of service to others?; and 3) What does it mean to be of service to others and not lose yourself in the process?

1) What does it mean to be of service to yourself?

Any attempts to make other people change their behavior, communicates that you have judged their behavior as not what it “should” be.  For example, in test question 4, the closed heart response told your spouse that lying is wrong and unacceptable.  Trying to get other people to change, with tactics such as blaming or trying to make a point, invariably results in others feeling uncared about and alienated, and does not increase their self-esteem or open up a learning dialogue. It does not serve them and therefore, does not serve you. 

In addition, attempts to control people or the future come from, and reinforce, beliefs that your well-being is dependent on another person being a certain way.   Only when you know that no matter what another person chooses to do, even lying or rejecting you, will keep you from being fulfilled and joyful, can you keep your heart open. 

Opening your heart and approaching others with a desire to learn, serves you well because it provides each of you the opportunity to learn more about the “heart” of the matter.  This is the learning that contributes to peace of mind and opens the door for meeting one of our deepest desires — intimate connections.

2) What does it mean to be of service to others?

In test question 2, upon discovering that your teenage child has been smoking marijuana, giving him advice, although well-meaning, was an attempt to control the future.  It also encouraged his dependency on outside sources to tell him how to behave and feel.  Consistently giving advice erodes his faith in himself to make the right decisions, abets in closing off his heart, and is therefore, not of service. It communicates your lack of faith in his ability to take care of himself, does not help build his self-confidence, and will not leave you feeling fulfilled. 

With an open heart, feeling your fear and sadness allows him to experience your caring.  When your heart is closed he will be so busy protecting himself from being controlled that he will not feel your concern or hear what you say.  With your heart open you will probably find him much more willing to talk with you and the possibility greatly improves for having a dialogue in which he can be honest about himself and discover more in that process.  You both are well-served.

3) What does it mean to be of service to others and not lose yourself in the process?

In test question 3, your employee has not followed through with her commitments and a closed heart resulted in ignoring the behavior and then getting angry.  Both these behaviors reflect a protection from confronting an upsetting situation with an open heart and ending up with one’s wishes and feelings being either ignored or made wrong.   When upsets occur, seeing only the two possibilities of being abused or compromised, most people respond by either trying to tolerate a situation in which they are being taken advantage (permissive), or disciplining with hardness (authoritarian).

Being of service means expressing your unhappiness without making another person wrong or trying to make them change.  Stating your position without being attached to the outcome is true personal power.  It’s setting your boundaries without closing your heart, such as Martin Luther King or Gandhi saying “No!” to an injustice without engaging in the abusive behavior of their oppressors.

Not compromising yourself gives another person some important feedback, and allows you to stand proud in your loving behavior.  This behavior serves both you and others.  You can give others the opportunity to learn some important things about themselves.  Whether they take it, is not your responsibility.  You have offered, which is all you can do.

Conflict Resolution
For most people, the word "conflict" conjures up many negative thoughts and feelings relating to war or battles, being wounded or losing.

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© Copyright 2004. Dr Jordan Paul