I recently shared some of my happiness tips with a small group of people and a concern was voiced – where is the service to others? The concern was that the tips focused too much on personal happiness and there was no room left for giving to others (volunteering) or doing things that might be uncomfortable, because those things might not make us feel happy.
There is a value of service to others being expressed. The concern is that we might not try being of service to others because we’re only focused on doing things that make us happy.
I think there are two things happening with this concern.
One – I didn’t do a good job of describing my definition of happiness.
Happiness is a state of mind that you choose to be in regardless of your circumstances or situation.
So, my definition of happiness is less about only doing the things that you think will give you a joyful feeling and more about choosing to be in a positive state of mind.
Two – the common assumption that happiness = being or staying comfortable.
Are you happy if you’re only doing the things you’re comfortable with? Probably, but eventually you’re going to get bored. Only doing the things you’re comfortable with is easy, but not a strategy for long-term happiness.
So, what’s a strategy for long-term happiness? Know your values and occasionally re-evaluate.
Your values are going to change over time. Certain things are going to be more important at certain times in your life and other things will be less important. That’s normal. So, evaluate what your values are on occasion (yearly, quarterly, whatever works for you).
Are you spending time on the things you value? If not, find a way to add more of that to your life. And step away from the things you’re doing that take time away from that. Is this process always easy and simple? Nope, it can be difficult to step away from things that you have been doing for a while. And it can be uncomfortable to take on new and different responsibilities or activities. But taking that step outside your comfort zone is extremely rewarding.
But let’s go back to the original concern: where does service to others fit into this? I have two answers:
One – if being of service to others is one of your values, then you’ll make time for it.
Two – doing volunteer activities that are a service to others does bring you happiness! Studies have proven it.
In the quest for happiness where do you think being of service to others (or volunteering) falls?