What does it mean to be of service? Wanting to help others seems wired into our DNA, but what does it mean to truly render aid or assistance?
One area in which we usually desire to be truly helpful is with our family members. Maybe with a grandparent or ailing parent. Let's remember though that being helpful can show us in a myriad amount of ways.
For instance, when it comes to caring for an older relative, like a grandparent or parent, there are sometimes when the most helpful thing to do is assist with scheduling, chores, carrying the groceries up the stairs, etc. And sometimes the most helpful thing to do is to allow that person a greater sense of autonomy. Helpful can sometimes then manifest as giving him or her space to be more independent again or make more choices for himself or herself.
Helpful also sometimes manifests as a silence force. It can be just as helpful to truly listen to someone for instance instead of giving advice.
With suicide rates among the highest in the senior population, this is a pertinent issue to address and ask ourselves. How can we best help our older loved ones? Or even better than that, how can we help older strangers? After all, as the saying goes, “A stranger is just a friend you haven't met yet.” That was certainly the case with the following real-life story.
I was deeply touched when watching an exposé that went viral on Facebook a few months ago. It told the story of a 4-year-old girl who greeted Dan, an 82-year-old man, in a grocery store with the words, “Hi old person. It's my birthday.” Dan's demeanor changed immediately and a sparkle returned to his eye as he responded with a “Hello” and then proceeded to ask how old she was. After a few moments of conversation, Nora (the 4-year-old girl) asked him for a hug and for her mom to take a photo of the two of them. Dan thanked Nora for making his day and stated that this was one of the best days he had had in a long time.
Nora's mom then posted the photos on social media and got a call from one of Dan's friends! She told Nora's mom that Dan had recently lost his wife and was having a very hard time. Nora's mom was quite touched by the ordeal (aren't we all?!) and decided to call Dan to ask him to lunch with her and little 4-year-old Nora. From there a relationship blossomed and Dan reports he has a reason to live again…to see Nora grow up. Nora and Dan are still in touch today.
I love this story because it points to the possibilities that abound for human beings in the way we relate to and care for one another, even complete strangers.
It shows us that help doesn't always look the way we think it does, the intention to be helpful extends far beyond organized volunteer work like that in a hospital or soup kitchen. There are people in your community, your neighborhood, or even your own family that could do with a good old-fashioned human intervention…some good ole genuine human connection and love.
Of course, there is no silver bullet here that can ensure we will always be genuinely helpful. Life is, after all, a contact sport filled with many lessons and lots of trial and error.
So how can we best help our aging loved ones?
Well, instead of running on autopilot with a list of preconceived ideas of what we think will be helpful, we can get quiet, listen deeply in the moment, and lean into our intuition. We can ask ourselves, “What does this specific situation call for?” From this place, we increase the likelihood of truly being of service. We can better assess what is actually needed versus what we think is needed. (I assure you that these two things can be quite different.)
By starting to more deeply assess each situation moment by moment, with mindful engagement, new ideas will occur to us. We may in that moment feel in our gut that the best thing to do is to be quiet. At another time, we may see that the right thing to do is share our own experience and knowledge. Another time, we may realize that the best way to help is to clean, cook, or even take that person out into town for a manicure or to see a nature trail.
CALL TO ACTION: Work on loving those around you!
There really is no limit here in how being loving and helpful can manifest happiness in your life.
How about working on loving them and yourself? We can all use a little work on it. A great way to improve is to practice. Start our 30 Days of Love challenge series to do just that and find yourself receiving more out of each moment with your friends, your family and yourself than you thought possible. And who knows, maybe you'll make a new friend at the grocery store while you're at it 🙂
❤ TRY IT FREE! ❤
Could you take the first step in this direction and set an intention to be helpful? Share what ideas or events manifest in your life as a result of this intention below!