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Give – Day 13 – If our motive is ‘self-improvement’ are we doing true selfless service?

As we wrap up 2 weeks of focus on the habit of selfless service…are you writing about your service each day?

I truly hope so…

…because the awareness you gain from physically writing your plans and results – no matter how small – is highly beneficial.

If you’re not getting the hang of writing about it yet, don’t be hard on yourself…

…But do your best to check in with a sentence or two on this habit.

Awareness changes everything.

Up to this point we’ve discussed a lot of the personal benefits to selfless service – and there are many.

In a scientific research study published here on PubMed, it was shown that people who engaged in true selfless service regularly experienced many of these physical side-effects personally:

Reduced emotional disturbance,

Reduced stress,

Improved morale,

Increased self-confidence and self-esteem,

Reduced pain, and…

Greater overall happiness.

Pretty impressive list of personal benefits right?

Do you think knowing that we can derive all those personal benefits from service might influence us to serve for selfish reasons?

If you thought ‘yes’…you’re right.

Interestingly enough, that same study proved that people who did service with the motive of self-improvement did NOT experience the above personal benefits of selfless service.

In the conclusion it states: Volunteers live longer than nonvolunteers, but this is only true if they volunteer for other-oriented reasons.

Makes sense – since they weren’t actually doing ‘selfless service’.

Our motive is proven to matter quite a lot.

So what is ‘true selfless service’?

What is the best motive for service?

And what difference does it make?

I mentioned on Day 3 that Selfless Service is: Doing something good for someone without any expectation of reward or repayment.

Put simply: Doing good for others out of love for them.

If personal benefit is our motive in service then it is not selfless.

Every religious or spiritual teaching I’m aware of teaches some form of selfless service.

For a few examples, Krishna says this in the Bhagavad Gita chapter 2:47:

“Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward. Work not for a reward, but never cease to do thy work. Do thy work in the peace of Yoga and free from selfish desires, be not moved in success or failure.”

In the New Testament the sentiment is similar in 1 Peter 3:8:

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.”

In the Book of Mormon service is also prominently taught like this:

“I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” – Mosiah 2:17

Notice how the motivations are not focused on personal reward?

It’s all about love.

If our main motivation to serve is ‘self-improvement’, we’re not really doing selfless service.

Which isn’t saying it’s bad to serve out of a desire to improve ourselves – just that it doesn’t produce the same benefits to ourselves or others.

Compassionate love for others is really the only possible motive of true selfless service.

When we act from that motive – pretty amazing things happen for everyone involved.

We spread the energy of love.

We open the flood gates of our inner source of love and enable that pure light and energy to flow out and touch everything around us.

Love has the amazing power to fill everyone it touches with joy and fulfillment.

But if we are doing service to check it off of some list so we can be happier, more fulfilled, or healthier personally – and not out of compassion for others – the energy of love is not flowing outward.

But the truth is, if we’re feeling horrible, consumed in ourselves, and discouraged…

…Then regardless of WHY we serve – if we just start doing it, our action moves us into a more compassionate state.

The act of serving itself will very likely move us into the motivation of love – if we are open.

So sometimes we just need to take steps toward love by starting with whatever motivation we can muster.

Just know, that as you practice this daily habit of thinking, writing, and acting on service – the motivation of love will grow in you…

And the joy of living a life filled with love will be magnificent some days.

This habit puts us into the state of true love – which is an unconditionally free gift that flows out of us and blesses everyone in its path.

Whether you live another day or another 1000 days, isn’t the important thing…

…All that really matters is that we live each day in love.

That is a Truly Amazing Life.

That is why we build the habit of selfless service: To live in love.

So, forget yourself, and get to work serving others!

And Make Today Amazing!