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Feeling happy? – Part IV – Serving Others

This post is a sequel to my series on happiness. Please, refer to Part III – Determination to Succeed, Part II – Understanding of Self, and Part I – Health to get a bigger picture.

Current world’s misconception of “service”

What comes to your mind when you hear the words “serve” or “service”? Are you thinking of a waiter at a restaurant? A maid in the hotel? A nurse in the hospital? Military service?

Are you thinking of people who do something out of obligation, or for money?

Let’s admit it: we all like to be served, as it gives us a feeling of superiority, a certain feeling of freedom (which is so sought after these days…), and maybe a feeling of carelessness? Everything will be done for us, we just have to ask. Some things are even expected without saying, and if not done, we are ready to put up a scene, right? Let me also suggest this: you may have discovered for yourself that there’s never too much of good service.

Well, let us look at it from a different perspective. I like to dive deep, so bear with me 🙂

Let’s start from the very beginning, when you were born. You were helpless and totally dependent on your mother. And she served you every minute of the hour until you became autonomous. I hope you did not follow a hormonal tsunami during your teenage years and turn away from your mother. I hope you are thankful to her for the life she gave you, for the care and love she surrounded you with. 

When you went to school, teachers were there for you to ensure you learn well and have a wide choice of topics to choose from when considering your future profession. I hope you visit your school every now and then and say “hello and thank you” to them. If you like to grow roots in the place you were born, your kids might even go to the very school you once graduated from!

Just think of it in very broad terms: every day of your life, everything you do is linked to someone else’s service one way or the other. When you take a train ride, it is the state structure that ensures your railroad and the trains, in which ticket controllers and train conductors are taking you places in a safe and clean environment. When you are outside, it is the state service for you to have a place to walk or a place to rest under the tree in the shadow on a sunny day.

When you buy food in a store, it is the army of business owners, managers, farmers, drivers, cleaners, cashiers and whoever else, who made it possible for you to just walk in and pick your apples and lentils and seamlessly proceed to check-out. All these people are at your service.

Think of the army of people behind Facebook or Google. How much work was done to make internet available at the touch of your finger?

This of this world. The air we breathe, the light we receive daily, the flora and the fauna… all that was also created in an amazing and very clever way. I hope you start feeling an overwhelm of gratitude by now 😊

The truth is that every normal human being in this world is looking to serve. Of course, part of it is out of need to earn the living. Another part? 

Everybody is good at something, and it is our life’s purpose to discover what is it that we like, what is it that we are passionate about, in order to master the skill and use it to serve other people. To serve with a positive attitude, with an open heart, with care and attention. [In case you are wondering about how to identify your passion and have not yet read my previous post in the sequel “Feeling happy?” – please, do!]

Now tell me: are you happy where you are at now? Do you like what you do? Are you fulfilled with the service you offer to others?

Why serve?

Dinner in a restaurant
Remember that awesome night in the restaurant?

Let me ask you a question. Remember that time when you went out for dinner with friends and had an amazing time? You loved the food, and the service was impeccable. You made a mental note to come to that restaurant again, because you loved how the waiter was polite, brought extra bread at his own initiative when your friend finished the last bit before the main course was served, made a sincere personal recommendation for the choice of the drink, and was generally attentive but not annoying?

That waiter was nothing short of passionate at his service. He treasured you as a client, and he wanted to ensure you had the best possible moment. He wanted to serve you in the best possible way.

I hope you tipped him and shared a smile.

Now, remember that teenage girl at McDonald’s taking your order? She did not smile, she spoke so softly you could not make what she was saying, she did not know how to operate the cashier and kept calling her colleague for help. How did that make you feel?

She was probably shy and – let me make a wild guess here – was there for the money (student loans are not a joke these days!). She was probably also exhausted from lack of sleep, as she was preparing for her exam. She was not particularly happy to stand behind that cash desk, but she needed to earn her living. However, none of that mattered to you at the time of your order, did it? I bet you told yourself to never come back to that McDonald’s. Ever. Again.

So, why is it important to enjoy being of service to others?

For starters, when you think of others and of how to make their lives better, you simply become constructive. You think less of yourself, and let’s admit it: the more we concentrate on ourselves, the more miserable we become. It is way healthier and more useful to think of others, and to show our gratitude, respect, and love to those around us. This will make us more attentive to the world around us, it will bring more smiles to everybody’s faces, and will automatically transform the world into a better place. 

Secondly, we can only enjoy doing something for someone else if we do something we like. I will share an example from my own experience. I looove giving a massage. When I was learning massage at a local school, in the second trimester we were told that we must start practicing not only on our family members and close friends but also with those we did not know, because that would enrich our experience with different types of morphology, skin, temperaments, etc. More exposure and practice = more experience and professionalism. This freaked the hell out of me! I was scared to touch other people I did not know! But I was a good student, so I put myself outside my comfort zone and started inviting my friends to spread the word. 

This trickled down from a small spring to a waterfall of clients. At first, ahead of each new massage, I was shaking like an autumn leaf. I thought to myself: “But I am not even through the entire curriculum! I don’t know all the moves, I have not mastered my touch, and-and-and …!” But with every next client (and especially, when the strangers started returning for more massage!) I felt like people were enjoying what I was doing – even if it was basic, it was from the heart and very sincere – and that made me even more enthusiastic to give them an even better experience every next time.

All these massages were taking place after working hours, of course. By the time the last client was leaving my place, I was exhausted, crashing onto my bed. But I was SO HAPPY! I felt exhilarated because I made one more person more relaxed, I brought a smile back on that person’s face. What else could I ask for?

This is why thinking of others’ needs and interests, finding a way to help other people and put them at ease, is – somehow paradoxically – the most rewarding thing one could experience. Do you know what I am saying?

Where to start?

Flower bouquet in a hand

It is not difficult to think of simple ways to be of service to other people. But since you asked… here are a few suggestions.

When you are on your way to work, don’t stick your face into your smartphone, but observe the people who walk into the train/metro/bus with you. Does someone need help to step into the carriage? Is there an elderly man or a pregnant woman who has not found a seat? Offer yours! 

Do you know the names of your neighbours? Bring a cake and introduce yourself, share some laughter with them. This will warm their hearts and reassure them that they have a lovely neighbour 🙂

Before turning on your TV after work, call your mom or dad and check-in. When was the last time you spoke with them? Do you know how they are doing?

Do you know what your colleagues like for breakfast? Surprise them with their favourite drink!

What project does your boss currently work on? Invite him for a coffee and suggest a couple of ways you could be of help in his project. That will for sure earn you brownie points!

I could go on forever, but I suppose you get the drift.

Before you know it, people will take more interest in you, and you will feel like this world is not such a bad place to live in after all. 🙂 Waking up every morning with a smile, knowing that you have many good things to do – it will certainly drive your level of happiness upwards!

It will be of great pleasure for me to hear from you. Let me know if you liked this post and share your experiences on the subject in the comments below!


  • Nat

    Such a wonderful post Vi! Being a servant is a privilege in this life, serving others with love is a valuable skill and needs to be nurtured. I also loved your story about the massage!!!

    • Vi

      Thank you, Nat 🙂 Glad to hear you enjoyed reading this bit! Yes, the love story of my husband and I is really something 🙂 One day I will share it in full with you!

  • Ana-Maria

    I like how and what you write Vi. My question is…how do I find my purpose; how can I find out what I can do to serve others and in the same time enjoy/earn?

Let me know what you think!

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