We live in a world where everyone wants to be a ruler and no one a servant. Everyone wants to be on the top thinking that happiness is found at the top. Human life is a ruthless climb to reach the top. In the parable of Hope for the Flowers, by Trina Paulus, we have Stripe, a Caterpillar, fighting his way up to the top of a column of caterpillars only to hear one caterpillar whispering in disbelief as he neared the top, “There’s nothing here at all.” This frustrating cry was answered by another, “Quiet, fool! They’ll hear you down the pillar. We’re where they want to get. That’s what’s here.” (Hope for the Flower, 1972, p. 94). The mad rat-race to the top is actually a race to frustration and sadness; it is not a path to happiness.
Positive psychology teaches us that serving others is an essential ingredient of happiness. Giving makes us more happy than receiving. Serving makes us more happy than being served. Tal Ben-Shahar, New York Times Bestselling author, and teacher of one of the most popular courses at Harvard University, a course on happiness, writes: “Contributing to other people’s happiness provides us with meaning and pleasure, which is why helping others is one of the essential components of a happy life” (Happier, 2008, p. 127).
Helping others, serving others is an essential component of happiness. All religions invite us to serve, to give. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Christianity, Galatians 6:2). “Rendering help to another is the function of all human beings” (Jainism. Tattvarthasurta 5:21). “Without selfless service are no objectives fulfilled; in service lies the purest action” (Sikhism. Adi Granth, Maru, M.I. p. 992). “He who gives liberally goes straight to the gods; on the high ridge of heaven he stands exalted” (Hinduism, Rig Veda 1.125.5). “Those who act kindly in this world will have kindness” (Islam. Qur’an 39.10). “I should be a hostel for all sentient beings, to let them escape from all painful things. I should be a protector for all sentient beings, to let them all be liberated from all afflictions” (Buddhism, Garland Sutra, 23).