Tag Archives: Serving

Kindness – It Does Your Body Good

Helping the homelessI remember being told to be kind as a kid, primarily as it related to how I treated any of my five siblings. I was thinking about this again this week while watching how little kindness there seems to be in the news. Between political battles of ideology, fighting for land, arguing over resources and fighting over egos, we have forgotten how to be kind. “Be kind for everyone you meet is fight a hard battle,” is a quote attributed to Plato. Regardless who said it, its message rings true now more then ever. What would it take for us to be more intentionally kind? And, how would our world change we did?

To me, the word Namaste says it all – “may the divine in me acknowledge the divine in you.” May whatever is great in me focus on seeing the greatness in you – even if I don’t know you. And if I did, I would be kinder. If I did, I would be more generous, more loving and more forgiving. I would see the greatness in you, trying to express your inner divinity. “We must find out for ourself that inside us is a god or goddess in embryo that wants to be born so we can express our divinity,” says Deepak Chopra in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.

Here is an exercise I regularly use for myself and as a challenge I share with my audiences. The next time you are on the highway and someone cuts you off, or you are in line and someone steps ahead of you, how will you make a point of seeing their greatness and their divinity instead of feeling offended? How will you see them as related to you, part of you and part of a greater plan? It isn’t easy because we have been trained to focus on ourselves more than on others. We feel violated, slighted or insulted. But it doesn’t have to be this way – our reaction to this is our choice. As we can choose to be unkind, we could also choose to be kind.

Changing a habit takes intention. To change a habit of focusing first on us takes the intention of wanting it to be different and committing to make the change. The starting point is awareness. We have to be able to see when we are kind and not kind. We have to be present enough to see ourselves in action – to notice our triggers and be aware of our responses. Only then will we be able to stop the “go-to” reaction of selfishness and retaliation, and instead see that we have a choice. That choice could include kindness. In the example of the car cutting you off on the highway, it could mean not blaring the horn and passing a gesture, but instead slowing down, letting the other car in and be entirely unaffected by the event. This is a choice.

The most amazing thing about being kind, is the greatest benefit is not for the other person; it is actually for you. The more unkind we are, the more damage we inflict on ourselves. I was coaching a client this week who is getting ready to leave an employer for some unfair and unprofessional things the employer did. This employee has the ability to “stick it” to his employer; be upset, carry a grudge and bad-mouth his employer. Or, he can realize that in a win-win termination solution, the employee can choose to not be at the effect of the situation, but actually choose to show up kinder, more aware and more committed to greatness. He can choose a mutually beneficial response that treats both sides kindly and professionally. He took the higher ground. His mood, health and spirit were left intact from the event. Kindness, it does a body good.

In what ways can you be more intentionally kind today, this week and this month? Feel the effects of it. See the effects of it. Though kindness does a body good, it also can do a planet good. Choose kindness.

True Power, True Leadership, and True Joy

"Leadership is really about serving." ~ Prince Cedza Diamini (Nelson Mandela’s grandson)

I bet he learned that from his grandfather. Talk about a man who acted from his core beliefs, and did not stray from them, even when it cost him his freedom. That’s conviction that’s hard to match. And it’s a power that can topple governments. Leadership is not about being a boss, it’s about being a vehicle to elevate the people you serve — you employees, your family, your circle, your tribe, or your nation. That kind of leadership is truly powerful.

You see, true power comes from within — being and acting in alignment with your core beliefs. However, getting to your core beliefs requires getting past the ego. Not the easiest thing to do. Because for the ego, that’s a life-and-death struggle. You have to get to that place where you don’t care what people think of you, you only care about doing what you feel called to do.

The interesting thing is, when you truly come from that place, you want to serve, because that is what that place beyond the ego (some call it your soul) wants. It wants to elevate the human experience.

And when you come from that place of serving, you have true power. Nobody can take that away from you. They can take your money, your belongings, your freedom, and this life, but they can’t destroy the power that lives beyond the ego. 

"Making the world a better place is not only your responsibility, it is your joy, it is your blessing, it’s your gift. It’s your opportunity to make your life mean something. So take it." ~ Derrick N. Ashong 

Have you ever helped out somebody? Given to a noble cause? Donated your time and skill? If you have, and you didn’t do it because it was required or to get something, do you remember how good it felt? Did it fill you with such joy that you couldn’t express it? Did it go so far as to make you want to cry?

If you haven’t, try it. Go out of your way to do something for somebody who needs it. I used to distribute old t-shirts that my clients had lying around in their storage closets to people living on the street. It didn’t cost me a thing, other than the 15 minutes to hand them out. But the smiles and thanks I got made it all worthwhile. I actually felt so incredibly humbled and grateful for the opportunity.

If you haven’t had the opportunities to give that I have, what about your experiences of giving to a young child? Doesn’t their gratitude light you up?

That’s because giving really is receiving.

Giving is serving. Serving is leading by example. It’s a very powerful place to play.

Discovering Your Passion

When I stand before God at the end of my life
I would hope that I would have not a single bit of talent left
and could say "I used everything you gave me."

–Erma Bombeck

A while ago, my friend Julie gave me a little tray I use every morning. It has the quote above written on it. Was she trying to tell me something? I had not been in touch for some time and this week, called to catch up with her news. She has found her life mission.

For nine years, we ran a local Possible Dream Group helping people new to the area find their way around, meet new friends — to identify and realize their possible dreams. Julie is a devoted mum to her two teenage children, and a friend who will go out of her way to help others.

A few months ago, she was reflecting on what a privileged life her children lead, and that many children in the world are not so fortunate. She was keen that they be aware of those others. She heard about a project being run in Kenya, The Isaiah Trust, working with impoverished children, and was moved to find out more about it.

She was invited to go see the work for herself. Keen to assist, she asked what she could possibly do to help. Did she have any skills or ability to contribute anything in that situation? The director said simply: Be a friend.

It was with some apprehension that she left for her two week visit. During it, her heart was touched and opened. She found what she now calls her life mission. Everything she has done in her life so far has prepared her for it.

She did become a friend to the children cared for in the orphanage. She sat and listened to them, talked with them, shared what she had with her, played with them. She encouraged their dreams of a better life, sharing their enthusiasm for a good education and the hope it gave them. She helped a mum who had no water dampen her baby’s face. She was instrumental in helping one little boy escape the brutality of his violent home in the slums to join the orphanage and begin his education. She witnessed his transformation from being hungry, ragged and despondent to standing with pride in his school uniform with a big smile on his face.

Julie had extended her family. Her natural calling as a mum and friend had made the experience easy and graceful for her. She is now applying the skills she learned in sales, marketing and presentation in a major multinational corporation to invite support back home for the Trust. Her kids have been inspired by her passion and tell their friends at school about their "cool" mum and her mission.

Julie’s passion for the orphanage is serving to help her develop new skills. She is taking an open university course in Creative Thinking to find new ways she can serve the children by gaining attention and support from people in her local community.

Before we put the phone down, she suggested I go to this site to see how I fit on the scale of the global rich. Check it out for yourself. It is quite interesting: Global Rich List

Doing charitable work is not everyone’s calling. Julie’s story however illustrates how a calling to personal fulfillment can take place. It involves being aware, and listening for the guidance and signs you are being given.

1. Knowing Your Passion

Go to the Clear Results Self-Assessment to explore your inner motivations. It is free of charge. Be open to what you might learn about yourself through it.

Your passion will speak to you through your dreams, through circumstances around you that touch your heart, through a clear sense of knowing: this is what I must do.

2. Expressing Your Vocation

In response to my article last week, "Finding Your Personal Motivational Trend", one reader wrote to me:

I did a short ‘finding your passion’ exercise that was very similar to the one in your article and what I arrived at was that I do indeed know my passions  but don’t have a clue as to how to fully/realistically pursue them. 

I was on Huffpo just catching up on news, not searching for this specific info, and came across your article.  Just reading about how you shifted — that you can shift, to think about it that way is fab  Your experience of creating the cookbook and how you used those same skills, and strengths to do other things is EXACTLY what I need to discover for myself. I haven’t a clue as to how to start to make the shifts but its encouraging to read your piece.

Any chance of a follow up article on how to discover/discern the paths for shifting??? 🙂

When you know your vocation and passion, you then need to go into the world to find opportunities to express them. Keep an open mind. Allow yourself to be led. Talk to people who might be able to participate with you, or contribute in some way. Explore. Have fun! Your passion has energy. It will direct you.

3. Finding Fulfillment

If you have yet to find your life mission, you might, like Julie, start with something simple. Extend your kindness, and be a friend to someone. You never know where that may lead you.

In response to my recent article, "The Power of Expressing Your Love,""dianecurriesam" wrote:

I just spent the day with my six-year-old son, who, in between wearing a crazy hat and skipping and singing down the street, kept randomly kissing my hand and telling me how much he loved me. Sometime in the midst of all this, I thought how beautiful the world would be if we were all as free and expressive as children.

WATCH: Dionne Warwick — What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love

Do you have a talent that you have not yet fully expressed? Have you ever been inspired through your dreams? How do you recognize when your heart is calling you?

Please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me at anne@annenaylor.com
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is now up on my website. Go over and have a browse. I hope you might find something there to warm your heart and bring you joy.

Homelessness Myth #10: Serving Is Tiring

I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know:


                        The only ones among you who will be really happy are those

                        who have sought and found how to serve.

- Albert Schweitzer


I am fortunate to know some very busy people who, through their service, help make this world a better place to live.  Even though they seldom take time off for rest and relaxation, they continue to work tirelessly for the benefit of all of us.   They are happy, even joyful people who get up every day to serve again.

 How do these busy service providers defy the law of nature that says energy expended must be replenished?  How do some people see the unvarnished misery of their fellow human beings and not be physically and emotionally drained?  How do some people continue to create beauty through art and music when the world can seem so dark?  Why do they continue to serve humanity in a myriad of ways often with little support or encouragement?

 Intrigued by these questions, I asked some amazingly selfless people what energizes them.  I am very grateful to them for their comments that follow.

 "We are all born with an instinct for altruism and giving as surely as we are born with instincts for survival, sex and power.  But like muscles that need to be exercised, our generosity and compassion can only be developed through regular workouts.  And, like working out, volunteering and service leave you with an inner buzz."

- Arianna Huffington, Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief, Huffington Post

    "Every day I run into a formerly homeless person who has graduated of St. Vinnie’s – in airports, everywhere I go.  Recently, I was in the hospital and the nurse and other hospital staff were all graduates of St. Vinnie’s!  We have two graduates on our board of directors.  I’m constantly running into graduates from St. Vinnie’s… that’s what keeps me going! That’s where the energy comes from."

– Father Joe Carroll, President, St. Vincent de Paul Village


  "It was a ‘challenging’ question. My ‘one word’ answer would have to be EMPOWERED….. which may seem strange, after all, how could giving something to others be empowering?! But for most of my adult life, when thinking of the poor, I would just get very frustrated.

Sure, dropping a dollar or some coins in the buckets of bell-ringers for the Salvation Army, or to the man with his sign on the street corner is the ‘decent’ thing to do- but it just never seemed ‘enough’. And answering the call of organizations to donate cans of food or piles of clothing – I understand it makes a difference – but for how long?  Do my efforts really change someone’s life for the better…. can one person really help?

It wasn’t until I actually walked into a soup kitchen to drop off the food that I saw ‘close up’ what one person can do. Each one of those volunteers- giving ‘straight from the heart’- was doing more than serving food, they were affirming that those receiving were ‘worthy’….. despite poverty, unemployment, substance abuse problems- whatever their reasons for needing help……. someone cared about THEM….. cared enough to give, not just money or food or stuff – but themselves, their time, their effort, their concern.

For those who have nothing…. living in fear & pain….. that affirmation that their lives still have value to someone means the difference between giving up or getting up. One needs only to visit the soup kitchens, the day centers or the shelters to feel that power. Each one of us can make a very big difference."

– Rose von Perbandt/agent for artist Ed Miracle/Art at Work

  Despite not having had a vacation in years, "a phone call, an email of success, meeting a graduate of our program for homeless people… keeps me going.  I get that a lot.  Our graduates become successful and they call me 5, 10 years down the road.  When graduates come from graduation, I feel like $9 million bucks!”

 – Bob McElroy, President, The Alpha Project

  “Service refreshes my spirit, giving me a new perspective on life — my own as well as that of others.  It renews my commitment to live well and wholly within the larger Spirit that encircles us all with love.”

– Karen A. Shaffer, President, The Maud Powell Society for Music and Education

 "A person who really hasn’t experienced life yet, if they haven’t experienced helping someone in need."

– William Butler, M.A., M.Div

 "Many times after anxiety-inducing budget or policy  meetings, I find that spending time with the clients in the program can have a calming effect. Just listing to others and helping them through their day benefits the client and the caregiver. It does not matter if the client is irritated about an issue or dealing with a particularly difficult time in their life, in social services if all interactions with others are looked at through the lens of empathy no ill will or aggravation can be transferred.

– Paul

 "What motivates me to help people?  I feel blessed that I have so much, so it is appropriate for me to share what I have.

 Service to others satisfies a desire in me to give back because I can’t say that all that I have or where I am in life is because of myself alone.  Someone helped each of us to get to where we are.  I am doing a payback to give to others what has been given to me.  None of us is here on our own. 

As a Big Brother, I felt very fortunate that I could help children who had no father.”

– Former Big Brother in the Big Brothers of America Program

 "It concerns me that there are so many needs out there.  So many people are struggling.  They can’t even buy food or find a decent place to live.   

I don’t work directly with clients, but I work so that life is a bit easier for them.  My hope is that what I am doing from day to day will help someone, somewhere live life with less stress and ease of mind.

            This is what keeps me going;  it keeps all of us going."

– Hannah Cohen, Policy Consultant on Issues of Housing and Homelessness, President of the Cohen Group

  “As a photojournalist, I have had the opportunity to talk to many of San Diego’s homeless. Each time we engage in a conversation, a cup of coffee, or just sit and watch passers by, I feel a communion with the person we call "homeless." It’s a very special time for me.

 It moves me deeply to smile along with someone else who has little yet offers a smile in return. I will continue to be an advocate for realistic and essential change in the criminal justice system and in finding answers to eradicate homelessness.”


– Susan Madden Lankford, author, Downtown USA



 "Remaining silent or passive in the face of injustice is simply not an option for me, since that would be tantamount to being complicit in that injustice. So I am fortunate that being part of struggles for social justice — work that is utterly necessary if the world is to become a better place — nourishes me both physically and emotionally. The struggle, itself, infuses me with energy."

– Susie Curtiss

 I look forward to your comments.  Thank you.




Asking for Help- the Other Side of Volunteering

I heard a wise phrase the other day: "in every moment, you are either serving or being served." The give and take, or giving and receiving, is a constant balance of life. How often to you serve others, and how often do you allow others to serve you? Is it easier for you to give than to receive?

In my last blog, I asked the question of  "Why Don’t We Volunteer?" And issued a Dare to Care as a means to challenge all of us to get out of our routine, and lend a hand to help support President Obama’s <a href="www.serve.gov">United We Serve </a>campaign. Today, I’d like to explore the topic of volunteering from a larger perspective. The other side of volunteering is asking for help. Today, more and more Americans need help – in big ways and small, and asking…… well, is not so easy.

I stumbled across a fantastic example of this blend of giving and receiving, in William Brandon Shanley’s grassroots company: <a href="www.getgiveshare.net">Give, Get, Share</a>. His slogan is a mathematical equation: +Give -Get = Share. His site claims, "We’re a gifts and wishes pool. We match resources with needs. We organize goods, services, people power, brainpower, and the indomitable human spirit and make them available to everyone for free. As a public service. To help people. To enhance life. To save the Earth."

This site is undergoing a retooling to make it even more user friendly. Shanley said, "Give Get Share is about values fulfillment of knowledge, inspiration, professional services or the arts. You can be a millionaire in Miami and be lonely, and ashamed of your loneliness. But to a family of five, who are needing a grandparent, it is a gift."

Currently, there are more Americans living alone than any time in history. According to the General Social Survey from Duke University, 25% of Americans have had no one to discuss important life matters with in the last six months. The idea of success being tied to self reliance is strong, and asking for help is a sign of weakness – at what cost to us all?

President Obama has declared there are "too many jobs lost," with unemployment rates climbing ever higher. When the statistic becomes a reality, the emotions of frustration, anger, shame, depression and fear preclude the ability to access resources needed to maneuver through the tidal waves. "There’s nothing anyone can do," is the easy answer. Yet, maybe someone can lend a hand, pitch in, make you laugh, and ease the burden just a tiny bit – if you just ask. I belive the beauty of Intent.com is offering a medium for others to ask for help- simply by crafting an intention, and knowing other’s energy can help to make it happen!

Greg Cortopassi, founder of <a href="www.launchyourdreams.com">Launch Your Dreams</a>, is a career and life coach, who offers the idea of service as a ‘life skill’ that has to be exercised like a muscle; and the act of contributing and receiving is something we are always doing. The better we become at serving, and allowing ourselves to be served, the greater our capacity for joy in life.

"Many people view the idea of service or contribution as something that comes from a feeling of guilt or obligation to their work, families or communities. Most people perceive that they are just not the "volunteer types," don’t get involved unless they have to, and then the act of serving is half-hearted," he explained. "If we hold a perspective that anyone on our path is an opportunity to serve, then it doesn’t become conditional or loaded. On the flip side, if we can’t receive when someone or something is trying to serve us, it also blocks the flow."

There is a balance in serving and being served. Some of us are better at one than another. Here’s a simple example. If someone pays you a compliment, how often are you tempted to either discount it, or quickly offer another one back as a hot potato toss? Come on, admit it. One of those, ‘You look great today,’ followed by an instant: ‘thanks, so do you!’ Someone was making an attempt to serve, in a simple and lovely way. Why is it so hard to simply say, "Thank you," and receive?

The fear of opening our hearts to others, being vulnerable, being ‘seen’ is one of the culprits to the rising feelings of loneliness, isolation and disconnection in the United States. Despite the assurances the recession is slowing down – or not – many folks on Main Street have not seen the tidal waters receding, and the riptides are moving the shoreline farther and farther out of reach. When people are flailing to stay above water, asking for help is not always on the top of their minds. People are losing their homes, downsizing, coping with job loss, holding off on college and giving up stress relieving vacations.

It is time to move aside the fabricated curtain of "everything’s fine" syndrome. The other side of volunteering is allowing someone to help you, to keep you company, to care about you. Over the weekend, we celebrated our nation’s birthday. Every American is a star on the flag. Every stripe binds and connects us together. Our nation became the mighty power it is by individuals taking turns serving one another, and being served in turn.

As we blow out the candles on our nation’s birthday cake, consider: How do you serve your country each day? Do you respect and care for the environment that surrounds us? Do you participate in civic duties? Do you support local businesses and buy American made products? It feels good to serve, so find a way to do so that seems right to you, and be conscious of your action.

How do you serve your fellow Americans? Do you know someone who is coping with cancer, lost a job, or is down and out, who could use a hug, a kind word or a referral for a job lead? Serving them in turn serves our country, and helps you forget about your own troubles for awhile.

How does our country serve you each day? Do you enjoy full access to topics from Iran to Michael Jackson without fear of retribution? Do you enjoy the free speech and citizen journalism of places like the Huff Po? Do you walk the streets freely, without seeing machine gun clad military patrols? How about walking into a grocery story with 200 different kinds of cereal to choose from?  Take a moment to reflect, and just to receive. To say, "thank you" for all the goods and services that are so readily available in this nation of bounty.

How have your fellow American’s served you? Have you been touched by someone or something that took you by surprise? Have you felt truly supported by your co-workers, neighbors or friends when you really needed help? Take a moment to gather in your mind the faces of the ones you love. Inwardly thank them for serving you, even if you forgot to acknowledge their actions. Every hand counts, as we come together this Independence Day holiday, and a chain is much stronger than a single link.

Giving The Gift Of You: Serving Your Community

To live harmoniously, we need to be supportive and helpful to all people, creatures, and plant life that share this earth with us. While “being of service” is part of being a good citizen of the world, it also feels good to help others. When we do something for others in service, without the expectation of anything in return, we are turning our actions into offerings.

There are many ways to be of service to our community. There are the obvious and much needed volunteer opportunities, such as serving Thanksgiving dinner at a shelter, mentoring our youth, or cleaning up a beach. Then, there is the kind of service that we may not even think of as being acts of service. Learning a new language (perhaps sign language) so that you can talk to more people is a way to reach out to others. Inviting someone who isn’t motivated enough to exercise on their own to join you on your daily walk is a way to give of yourself. Sharing flowers or vegetables from your garden, organizing a poetry reading, offering to babysit for a busy parent, or donating pet food to an animal shelter all are simple ways to offer your services to your community.

There are many ways that you can serve the world. Imagine the impact we would have on the environment if we picked up one piece of trash off the street everyday and chose not to drive our car once a week. Even gardening tactics such as throwing wildflower seeds onto a vacant lot can brighten the lives of others – including the lives of birds and insects. Everyday, you can do something to make this world a better place. During meditation, ask for guidance on what you can do to be of service. This can be a wonderful way to start your day. Smiling at a stranger who looks down in the dumps or teaching your neighborhood kids how to whistle will impact someone’s day or even their life. Giving of yourself is the best gift that you can give.


For more inspiration, visit DailyOM.

Selfless Giving

Although we know that what we give to the world is what we get back, we must recognize that "giving to get" is an action based in ego. It is when we give from a pure state of charity and selflessness that we reap the most rewards.

Next time you endeavor to serve or give to someone, be sure that your motive isn’t to help bring good things back to yourself. Let it simply be for the purpose of showing love towards the individual. Let your focus be on the individual you are serving, and see yourself in them–this will help dissolve any selfish pursuits. "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

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