Service is something many of us take for granted. Our impact and purpose comes from serving others in some way. Oftentimes, we don’t realize we can still serve more. How do we understand service from a monk’s perspective and translate it into actionable steps for our life?
In the final chapter of Think Like a Monk, Jay Shetty reveals the most important secret he’s been holding on to since leaving the ashram.
“The highest purpose is to live in service,” Jay Shetty writes. We all want to help those in need, but we allow ourselves to be limited by pressure and the responsibilities of our day to day lives. Sometimes we are so blinded by the ways we need help that we cannot see how to help others. “It’s hard to think about selflessness when we are struggling.”
Ultimately, monks live in service. When we think like a monk, it means thinking in terms of service. Monks seek to leave a place cleaner than they found it, people happier than when they were met, and the world a better place. Where did they learn that kind of sacrificial living? When we look at the universe around us, we can see examples of consistent serving in nature, for example.
“It follows that the only way to align properly with the universe is to serve because that’s what the universe does” writes Jay Shetty. “Service fulfills us on many levels, beginning with my simple belief that we’re born wired to care for others so service does us good.”
Not only does service help others, it helps us. Service gives back to us, too. When we pursue compassionate goals, we are less likely to have symptoms of anxiety and depression than when we focus on improving or protecting our own status or reputation1. The simple act of giving to others activates the pleasure center of our brain. It’s a win-win situation. Here are some more of the benefits of service Jay Shetty mentions in Think Like a Monk.
“Service connects us,” writes Jay Shetty. When you’re serving, you don’t have time to allow loneliness to creep in. In addition, service causes us to step out of ourselves, physically going out into the world to help others.
“Service amplifies gratitude.” When we serve, it allows us to see and appreciate what we have that others may not.
“Service increases compassion.” Our compassion is amplified by our service and our ability to see others and how we can help them better.
“Service builds self-esteem.” When we help others by serving, we start to feel better about ourselves. We see that people need what we have to offer.
Living a life of service is easier when that is your highest intention and everyone around you is on the same page. In the modern world, with pressure from society, living a life of service becomes much harder.
Chapter 11 of Think Like a Monk explores how we can live a life based on service, which is the highest intention of a monk’s life. Jay Shetty takes time to really explore the different facets of service and how we can use these principles in our daily lives.
1 Gillihan, Seth J. “How Helping Others Can Relieve Anxiety and Depression.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 10 Oct. 2017, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/think-act-be/201710/how-helping-others-can-relieve-anxiety-and-depression.