How may I serve others so that they may have what I desire? The answer to this seemingly contradictory question holds the key to authentic inner peace. Many callers to my radio show are struggling with fears, worries, and concerns that stem, as they see it, from unfulfilled desires. I usually suggest that they try wanting something more for others than they want it for themselves. The love required to do this turns their focus away from the constant turmoil of the ego and instead opens real possibilities for living their highest and most joyful purpose.
Supportiveness, or service to others, is one of the four cardinal virtues described by Lao-tzu. When you extend yourself in a spirit of giving, helping, or loving, you act as God acts. Imagine shifting your attention off of yourself and asking the universal mind: How may I serve? When you do so, the message you are sending is: I’m not thinking about myself and what I can or can’t have. Your attention is on making someone else feel better.
Anytime you’re supportive of others, you automatically remove ego from the picture. And with no ego, you go from edging God out to being more like God. Practice giving and serving without expectation of reward (or even a thank-you)—let your reward be spiritual fulfillment. This is what Kahlil Gibran meant when he wrote in The Prophet: “There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.”
The greatest joy comes from giving and serving. That’s much better than the discomfort and distress of focusing exclusively on yourself and what’s in it for you. When you make the shift to supporting others in your life, without expecting anything in return, you’ll think less about what you want and find comfort and joy in the act of giving and serving. This giving, loving, serving person is the real you.