Dr. CK Bray
The Lost Opportunity to Serve Others
I earned my Eagle Scout as a teenager. I loved scouting as a youth because I got to go camping, learned how to shoot a bow and arrow, earned merit badges, and had many other adventures. Scouting also required a lot of service to neighbors, people in my community, and those I attended church with. When I hit high school, the last way I wanted to spend my time was serving others. Still, due to previous years of always needing service hours and being involved in service projects, my mind almost automatically noticed the needs and opportunities to serve around me. Looking back, I am immensely grateful for leaders and friends who taught me the value of service, not only in making a difference in the life of others but also in my own.
In a world full of contention, selfishness, and always a list of to-dos, we may be missing one of our day's best opportunities for meaning, fulfillment, and joy—the opportunity to serve someone else.
Service to others is an essential aspect of human behavior that has been studied extensively by researchers in neuroscience and cognitive psychology.
Neuroscience research has shown that helping others triggers the release of various neurochemicals in our brain, such as dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins. These chemicals are associated with feelings of happiness, pleasure, and well-being. Studies have found that helping others can be as rewarding to the brain as receiving a monetary reward. This suggests that service to others can positively impact our mental health and well-being.
Moreover, research in cognitive psychology has shown that helping others can increase our sense of meaning and purpose in life. When we engage in acts of service, we can see the impact of our actions on the lives of others, which can give us a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. Additionally, helping others can increase our sense of self-efficacy, which refers to our belief in our ability to achieve our goals and make a positive difference in the world.
From a social perspective, service to others is important because it can help to build stronger social connections and relationships. When we help others, we build trust and reciprocity, which are critical components of healthy social relationships. Research has shown that social support is essential for our mental and physical health and that individuals who engage in acts of service are more likely to have higher levels of social support.
This week instead of finding excuses not to serve others, find an excuse to make a difference in the life of someone around you. The benefits far outweigh your time and effort.
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