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Self-Centered for Service

"As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself and one for helping others."- AH

ReConnectEd to Life is changing the perception of what it means to be self-centered. Long regarded as a term denoting selfishness or having complete disregard for others, it has unfairly earned a bad reputation.We believe that being self-centered is actually a positive quality achieved by making our own health and well-being a priority above ANYTHING and EVERYONE else.  Consistently practicing the four seeds of self-care(eating well, sleeping well, meditation and exercise) will strengthen our innate abilities to accomplish personal goals, foster more meaningful relationships and reconnect with our community. In short, when we feel better, we do better- for ourselves and everyone around us.

I attended a three day retreat last July and was completely overwhelmed by the amount of love that was constantly showed me through the service of others. I was affected so much by the experience that I, too, wanted to be a part of serving others in the same way. However, I have no doubt that my self-care practices primed me to be eager and joyful for the opportunity to serve. And I am still only beginning to experience the personal gratification that comes with the action to serve others. For so long I thought I was incapable of going above and beyond to help others. I barely had time for my own family's needs, let alone the needs of strangers. I couldn't begin to fathom that I could actually enjoy serving others.

I signed up to serve this past weekend on the same retreat I attended in July. I was excited to make this grand gesture of service, as if I was finally doing something worthwhile to contribute to my community. I was laying in my bunk bed in the dorm one evening, observing a fellow volunteer as she watched her daughter perform for her school's show choir on a live stream. She explained that this was their first performance of the year and she was upset to be missing it but her daughter had insisted she go to the retreat instead because she knew how much she enjoyed serving. She agreed to go, but the look on her face as she attempted to get online was clear- she wasn't going to miss that performance even if it meant she had to see it from her phone. She watched so intently, commenting on every nuance of the performance, keenly aware of when someone hit that difficult high note or missed a dance step they had practiced hundreds of times. I had a clear vision in my mind of what the scene looked like just from her giving a play by play of the scene. I thought how beautiful it was to watch her face light up as the kids performed to standard and to watch compassion in her eyes when they made mistakes. I thought about how much time and effort had gone into getting that child to and from practice and the devotion she had to her child's success by knowing every aspect of what needed to happen to make the performance a success. I thought about all the ways she serves everyday to enhance the life of another.

"Everyone can be great...because anybody can serve."- Martin Luther King Jr.

I realized by the simple encounter of watching a proud mother enjoy her daughter's performance, that we all serve in one way or another. And we should celebrate and acknowledge ourselves more when it comes to how much we already contribute. The excitement of what we are already doing is the energy that ultimately propels us to want to do more. Not all of us have the opportunity to get away for three days to serve on a retreat, but we all have opportunities everyday to serve in our own circle of influence. How we move throughout our day, accomplishing our daily mundane tasks, can be an act of service if we let it. I remember telling someone once that I wasn't a naturally servant-minded person and them being astonished that I could say such a thing. "You have four kids! And you help babies be born!" And while it may have seemed obvious to her that my life was filled with service, I didn't celebrate myself that way. I downplayed my service because I wasn't doing noble things like feeding the homeless or digging wells in Africa.

We need not go outside our own homes, families, or communities in order to serve greatly so as to influence world change. In fact, what the world needs most is for us to start where we are. With ourselves and our own self-care. The world needs us to be self-centered so we have the brain health to feel better and, ultimately, do better in our relationships and our community. Grand gestures of service are amazing and important and deeply appreciated. But the amount of time we spend consistently and joyfully offering ourselves in service to our daily tasks and relationships is how we will cultivate true and long-lasting change.

With love and gratitude,

Kinda and Rachel

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