One of the best ways to forget about your own problems is to focus on the problems of others. When you serve other people, you soon feel the weight of your own burdens lifted and you realize, almost despite yourself, that you are happy.
But for many of us, it’s hard to know who or how to help. At least, that’s often how it is for me. I feel like I can be a good helper, but I need someone else to tell me what to do because left on my own I probably won’t see it. I think that’s either because I’m still too absorbed in my own problems to truly see the need of another, or it’s because the ability to serve is a talent. Perhaps, it is both.
Regardless, starting at home is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to practice the art of service. At home, we can feel at ease stepping outside of ourselves and looking at the load another is carrying to gauge how we might help. Service inside the home is not a cop-out. It’s a necessary part of happy home life.
Mother serves her husband and children by seeing that everyone is fed and has clean clothes to wear. Father works hard to provide a safe home for his family. When one of these family leaders begins to think more of themselves than of the other family members, chaos reigns and love and happiness flee.
D. Lee Tobler, a leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or Mormons,) wrote, “One of the major stresses on families today is that the individual—the child or the parent—sees himself or herself, rather than the family, at the center of life. Focusing on ourselves, and not on the larger vision of bringing the family together, can lead to contention” (“Homegrown Happiness,” New Era, Feb 2004, 11.) The family can only thrive when its members watch out for each other.
Service, whether in or out of the home, is a matter of heart. We have to desire it, we have to want to see another person happy. In a world that values self-preservation so much, it’s often difficult for us to look outside of ourselves and put another first. But the more you serve, the more full your heart becomes—full of love for the person you have served.
This is a gift from God, a payment if you will, for putting another before yourself. The Book of Mormon reads, “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17.) Such love and devotion for another of God’s children brings Him joy and blesses your own life as well.
Elder Tobler wrote, “If the family is to be eternal, the family has to be first—the highest priority.” Mormons believe that not only is the family elemental for a happy life, it is essential for a joyful eternity. Let your family be the testing ground for your new commitment to serve and to love other people more than you love yourself. In so doing, be prepared for your heart to swell, not only with an increase in love, but with happiness overflowing.