The Month of Love: Serving Others

February can be a difficult time for people.  In many locations, winter continues to shower snow making it difficult to get around and amplifying the seasonal depression many of us struggle with.  It’s also known as the month of love as Valentine’s Day looms ever closer.  For many this can be a time of loneliness.  Many have lost loved ones, some are single, while others may be in a relationship that is only causing them pain.  Whatever the case, we want to encourage a different approach to the upcoming holiday.  Instead of wishing for someone to appreciate and love you, why not give that to others.  This week we’d like to encourage each person reading to dedicate time this week to serving others.

Often when people say “service” many of us picture formal volunteer opportunities.  This can include anything from volunteering at a homeless shelter, working with a group to clean up local areas, or putting up signs to encourage awareness on a certain topic.  While these activities are wonderful and important, there is also something beautiful about more spontaneous acts of service.  Something as simple as saying “hi” to and smiling at a stranger can have a profound influence on both yourself and the one you are serving.  However, you plan to serve, there are so many incredible benefits to taking time to focus on others.

To begin, service provides incredible social benefits.  It can lead to lifelong connections and life-changing moments.  It’s a wholesome way to expand your horizons by meeting people you may not have otherwise known.  Such activities also enable you to develop stronger social skills that will allow more opportunities to be made available to you.

The mental and emotional benefits are also profound.  Put simply, service makes you happier.  Several studies have shown that the more people take time to focus on others, the more positive their emotions generally are.  Many psychologists encourage individuals who suffer with depression, anxiety, or other similar illnesses to volunteer for service opportunities.  People who put forth the effort tend to be much more satisfied with themselves and their lives.

Lastly, and perhaps most surprisingly, service actually has physical benefits as well.  Doing good to others can lower blood pressure, may alleviate chronic pain, and can even help you live longer.  Those who serve have shown a greater ability to fight off diseases and are less stressed than those who do not regularly serve.  Such benefits will allow you to live a longer, more wholesome life.

You don’t have to give your time completely over to other people.  We are all busy.  Sometimes serving others, especially strangers, just seems like one more responsibility on top of everything else we have to do.  We understand, but we want to encourage you this week to be on the lookout for just one out of the ordinary, service-oriented activity you can do.  Whether that be to provide something for a homeless person you regularly see or even just smiling at someone you don’t know at the grocery store, we know it will be worth the extra effort to benefit someone else.  Share the love this week.  Do something good and learn to love those you do it for.