All human beings seek to avoid emotional pain and hurt while maximizing pleasure. But the reality is that life for many is painful and difficult. Some people are even crippled by years of emotional suffering – sometimes inflicted by emotional, physical or sexual abuse – maybe by neglect, or perhaps by common bullying simply because they were just different in some way from others.

The truth is that everyone has secret wounds that hurt at times. For some people though, their wounds are so deep and severe that they hurt much of the time. For most it is not their fault, they have been hurt so much by others for so long that they seem unable to move forward. Others seem stuck in cruel past experiences that continue to haunt them.

For most people though, we get along fine. Most of us are functioning pretty well although even the majority of people – those who are doing good – carry secret hurts and pains, self-doubts, and anxieties.

Everyone can benefit from kindness because intentional kindness and a cultivated gratitude bring us out of the bondage of self and relieve us of fear and worry. When we act out of compassion for others it draws us out of ourselves and out of our own little world. The secret truth is that when we serve others we are really serving ourselves because we quickly come to the realization that we are neither unique nor alone in this world. When we serve others we serve ourselves because we see that others are struggling with problems even greater than our own and this helps to put our own struggles into perspective. Serving others in kindness helps us see that our own problems are often not as bad as we imagined them to be, that we will move on, and that all will be ok.

But we have to constantly serve others to keep this in mind, lest we slip back into self-centeredness or self-pity. After all, we spend every minute of the day with ourselves. Therefore it is very easy to slip back into self-centeredness and forget how fortunate we are and to forget the suffering of others. Great minds throughout history have reminded us of the power of service to others. Mother Teresa constantly urged people to serve others if they want to be happy. The major religions and philosophies teach this as well.

How can you serve others today?

Ron Hill