Morning meditation: How can you serve?

What is a morning meditation? To help me build a habit of daily writing, I’m publishing a few thoughts here every morning about ideas that interest and inspire me, mostly drawn from ordinary life. I hope you enjoy them.

Sometimes life feels as if it’s changing all around me. Many people I know feel the same way. Careers shift. Friends move. Relationships begin and end. In the midst of any significant disruption, it’s common to ask, “What should I do?” I think we ask this question because we want to feel in control, especially in times of change, so we search and occasionally grasp for any next step that allows us to take action.

What should I do? I don’t actually believe this question is all that helpful in times of change. It puts all the focus on us and our problems. It throws up a wall between our Selves and the world and assumes that there is some right way forward that we can figure out, indeed which we must figure out before we can do anything at all. Then, when we just don’t know what to do — and this happens to everyone at some point — it can lead us to feel very powerless and alone.

A question that I find far more productive is, “How can I serve?” Unlike what should I do?, the question how can I serve? immediately directs our focus outward. Rather than insist upon a single answer, this question invites us to consider many possibilities, to contemplate our strengths and gifts and how we might use them to contribute something to the world.

How can I serve? is an antidote to feelings of isolation and powerlessness, even when we don’t know what we should do next. You needn’t know exactly what you want or what to do in order to serve well. You need only find a way to serve. There are opportunities everywhere.

Strangely enough, when we stop searching for the “right” thing to do and instead focus on what we can offer the world and other people, purpose has a way of emerging. Some things in life cannot be found. They can only be allowed to come forth in their own way and time.