There’s a profound quote by Mahatma Ghandi that struck a chord with me several years ago, and has remained a compass for me ever since …
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” – Mahatma Ghandi.
With the pain and suffering I’m seeing all around me due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation, I woke up today remembering this quote and feeling called to write about the simple, yet profound wisdom it contains.
For me, developing a ‘service-oriented mindset’ came about by chance just over 17 years ago. Back then, I was a 30-year old single woman with plenty of time on my hands, having moved to a new city where I knew no one. Feeling alone and isolated, I was worried about being bored on weekends, so I decided to become a mentor to an eight year old girl through the Barnardos “Big Friend” volunteering program.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but becoming a mentor to this young girl would change the course of my life.
I quickly discovered that helping another – particularly someone who really needed me – was medicine for my soul. For the first time in my life, my self-oriented, negative thinking patterns of ‘woe is me’ were interrupted. This delightful, yet sometimes tricky friendship, swiftly moved me out of my head and into my heart. ‘The long drop’ as it is sometimes referred to, was surprisingly easy. All of a sudden, my problems seemed relatively small in comparison to hers’ and her family’s, and a whole new perspective on life beyond myself, began to emerge.
I continued to mentor this young girl through her teenage years even after having my own children. To me, she was, and still is, family. People who knew the story of our relationship would often say to me ‘aren’t you kind’. I found this embarrassing because the truth was that having her in my life lifted me as much, if not more, than it lifted her.
In more recent years I have continued to mentor others because doing so brings me more meaning and joy than anything else I do. Each time I help someone in need, my heart expands and a spaciousness opens up inside that brings with it peace, love and a profound sense that this is what I’m here for. I believe this is precisely what Ghandi meant – that we will find ourselves, our true nature of peace and love, when we help others.
And to my little friend, who is now not so little, and who is the inspiration behind this article and behind much of my life’s work, may I say …
You are an amazing soul with wisdom beyond your years. You have helped shape me into the service-oriented, kind-hearted person I am today and I will remain eternally grateful for our rare and special friendship. Thank you.