Updated: Feb 27
Step 6: Look for Opportunities to SERVE (BE KIND)
The rationale for including service has been explained in Step 5. Along with gratitude, it helps to reinforce the new neural pathways, which leads to the development of more self-loving choices. As you maintain that more self-loving perspective, you naturally begin to see your external world differently. The adage, ‘we see the world as we are and not as it is’ applies to both loving and non-loving perspectives.
Three very distinct changes emerge, the more committed you become to living mindfully.
Change 1: The first sees you both recognising and acting on opportunities to be kind to others. Unless we are driven by a need to be liked, we typically tend to be more judgemental of others, so as to alleviate our own pain that comes from our story of poor self-worth. To be judgemental, our focus is oriented to anything that another thinks, acts or feels that can be deemed to be ‘wrong’. You might see a beggar, and immediately judge them and their circumstance such that you walk past them, trying to ignore their plea for alms. From your perspective, they must have caused their situation and chances are if you did give them money, they would spend it on drugs and alcohol.
Change 2: When your filter for how you see life has changed, you are moved from being judgemental to seeking to understand and in seeing ‘their need’, you respond with acts of kindness. In the Christian tradition this response was called the ‘corporeal works of mercy’ which included; feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, providing shelter for the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison. During the Black Plague, burying the dead was also included. Pope Francis recently suggested that the works of mercy should also include looking after the planet and its critters. This is the ‘neighbour’ component of the fundamental law - to love your neighbour as yourself.
This change also leads to being less self-judgemental and more self-loving. In reviewing the 60 aspects of awareness in EAP, one of the most commonly selected aspects that requires improvement is SC7 - It is easy for me to be self-forgiving. Forgiveness and mercy were fundamental to the ‘spiritual works of mercy’. These included; pardoning wrong doers, loving your enemies, praying for those who make false accusation, turning the other cheek, giving you coat as well as your cloak and going the extra mile, and neither judging or condemning. As much as these are about how you relate to others, they are primarily about how much you love yourself. Mercy and forgiveness in this context can only be ‘naturally’ extended when you sit comfortably in the understanding of your own worth. In this place you realise that the way to be most loving to yourself is to extend forgiveness and mercy. You maintain your inner-peace and joy when you can do this. This is the ‘yourself’ component of the fundamental law - to love your neighbour as yourself.
Change 3: With your ongoing commitment to mindfulness, you eventually grasp the full understanding of the gift in your story and begin to clearly see how you can use your story as a gift of healing. Now you literally begin to perform what appears to be magic as you use your gift to deeply impact on the lives of people who cross your path. This is no longer only just social justice and being merciful, now you are performing miracles. In this place the words of 19th century American writer and philosopher, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow gain meaning...”And God alone speaks in us, and we wait in singleness of heart that we may know his will, and in the silence of our spirits, that we may do his will and do that only.”
Having attuned your hearing from fear to love, you are guided in your choices ‘to serve’ using the gifts that have arisen from your story. It now becomes clearer how you can make a difference in the world, how you can bring healing to others, to yourself and to the planet. No longer a consumer, you are now a contributor.
As the sixth step in the strategising sequence, the focus here needs to be less on what you ‘do’ in terms of service, and more about who you ‘be’. It’s Mother Teresa saying that she was less interested in how you served and more interested in the ‘why’. When creating your service strategy, you will be giving consideration to how your service becomes your second nature, and that irrespective of how you fill your day, the love you have for yourself, for others and for the planet is primary.
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