Reality Check: The Many Ways to Serve

Knowing that one has found their purpose in life is important for many people, including, or perhaps especially, for young people. Many of those who wish to live a life of purpose focus on service.
If you look at service in terms of Dr. Glasser’s basic needs, you might find that acts of service to others are a positive, productive way to satisfy our basic need for power and recognition. For some people, this basic need is a big motivator and attempts to satisfy it can take many forms.
Sadly, we sometimes see efforts to satisfy the power need play out in destructive ways. There are those who will try to satisfy their need for power by attempting to exert power over others. In the process, they add misery to the lives of the people they touch, and may even have a negative effect on their own lives.
But there are also good, helpful ways to satisfy that power/recognition need.
One way is through service to others, and I’m sure that you’ve seen people recognized for their devotion to service, whether through work or volunteer activities.
Service comes in many forms. Some occupations are literally service-oriented; one gets paid to help. They are sometimes referred to as “helping professions” and we can be grateful that there are people who are drawn to that work. Medical services: doctors, nurses, support workers of many types. Protective services: policing, firefighters, military service. Information-related services: teaching, coaching, counselling. And there are many more.
But there are also many service activities that aren’t perceived as helping professions, yet provide tremendous service. Think of your plumber, for example, who is the link between you, clean water and safe waste disposal. There’s the electrician who ensures power to keep your food safe and your body warm. There’s the welder tasked with ensuring that the bridge doesn’t fall down; the carpenter who keeps the roof intact, and the mechanic whose work has enabled you to travel to see your friends, get your food, or go to the hospital. Those trades that we are sometimes inclined to take for granted make much of our daily survival, safety, and comfort possible.
If you are a young person (or an old person), you may be overwhelmed by a bombardment of negative messages. For example, “You’ll never be able to own a house;” “The world is being destroyed and people don’t care;” “Injustice is everywhere and it’s the fault of one group (or another group, or many groups.)” In summary, “Things are always getting worse, never better.”
It’s not a surprise then to hear, particularly from young adults, the age-old response of, “I want to change the world!” Sometimes that manifests itself as belligerent protest of everything that’s perceived to have been done wrong by others.
However, if you do have a drive to help and a genuine wish to make a difference, there are plenty of ways to serve. You may even change the world. Or at least, make the world a better place for one other person, or a few others, or a community.
When you develop a skill that enables you to do something that is genuinely useful, you can find a way to make that a service if you wish to do so. That can be tremendously satisfying for you, and for the people you serve.
What are your views on service?

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