How may I serve? When I first heard Wayne Dyer ask this question I wanted to throw my fist up to the heavens and scream No! No! No! I was still waitressing at the time. I had been for years and years and the thought of more serving made me want to take off my apron, ball it up and throw it at the nearest customer. I was burnt out.
Then I found something that made me happy. Really, really happy. And I was good at it. Within a very short time I was able to stop serving at the cafe. Not that there is anything wrong with it. I did it for 13 years. At the same restaurant. If you can wrap your mind around that! In Los Angeles, where 13 years equals something more like 89 years. "You're still here?" people would ask me when they came in. (What a silly question, I am standing in front of you. Of course I am still here.) My favorite horrifying thing someone said was "I thought you would have made something of yourself by now."
Are. You. Kidding?
Someone actually said that?
Yes. Yes, they did. More than once.
I loved it for what it was but enough was enough. I met some of the best people I know and learned more than I could have ever hoped for while serving veggie burgers and grilled artichokes with tofunaise. After a few years of waitressing I started to hate it yet all I did was complain about hating it. When I decided to I stop pursuing an acting career, I remember feeling lost in a sea of people who knew exactly what they wanted. Or so I thought. I am sure a lot of them also had no clue beyond what kind of sandwich they wanted for lunch.
I felt like, well, I felt like a loser.
Yikes. The "L" word!
Looking back I see that I was not a loser in any way but I can understand why we start to feel that way at times. Especially when there's nothing that is making our soul come alive and say YES!
In the irony of all ironies, it is the question How may I serve? that actually saves us from feeling lost and which also moves us forward in life.
4 Ways You Can Answer the Question: How May I Serve?
1) Find something you are passionate about and give back. For me, it is helping kids with special needs. I offer them free yoga. I hold fundraisers, I donate proceeds from my t-shirts. Whatever it is, find something you are passionate about and volunteer your time, money or voice. It doesn't have to be big. It can literally be a posting on Facebook.
2) Help other people shine. Support those you love and those who need it. I am a huge fan of sharing. I used to come from a mentality of there is not enough when I was an actress. That got me nowhere fast. I never booked jobs. Now, I share my fellow yoga teachers' events and projects without a care in the world. It's like Marianne Willamson says in Our Greatest Fear, "And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” By helping others shine their light, I believe it lights us up as well. It also feels good to help other people, in ways both big and small. I have also found that the more I give back, the more comes to me. That's not why I do it but I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't notice a huge shift in my own abundance, success and healing.
3) Wish well for others. At my Manifestation Retreats and Workshops I have everyone write down what they are manifesting in their lives on a sticky note and stick it on the wall. Then everyone takes a sticky note off the wall that isn't their own. We then meditate on what that paper says and I ask them to take the sticky note home with them. A few things happen during this process. One, for a few moments at least, as you are meditating on another person's desire or dream, you take the focus off of yourself, which feels really good. It's pretty hard to do (when I close my eyes I start to think of how hungry I am or what I am doing later that day. It's very much a me, me, my, my, I, I, time for me.) I love when I am able to shut off and not think of myself at all. By meditating for someone else you give yourself the gift of not thinking about your own bullsh*t. Then you take the paper with you and stick it in your wallet or on your desk and every once in a while you think about that person. You visualize their dream coming true! It doesn't even matter if you know whose paper it is or not. The point is that you are wishing or praying for someone else as they are for you. Someone also has your sticky note. It's a beautiful experiment in "How May I Serve" without actually having to volunteer or donate money but rather by just sending out your love.
4) Let Yourself Shine. Above all, you must let your own light shine. You are robbing the world if you keep yourself small. It is truly a way of serving others and yourself if you let yourself be fully self-expressed. If you are your best version of yourself, others are bound to be inspired to start living their own truths.
I no longer wait tables but as I think back on those years a small smile creeps on my face. I realize that although I was a crappy server (great personality but very bad service is how I defined myself) I gave all of myself. I served others not just literally with food, but making them feel seen or loved, by making them laugh. There are always ways to serve and once you find the ones that serve you best, you will become an addict. A "Giving Back Addict."