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Stress Solving Secret #7: Serve Someone Less Fortunate Than Yourself

This is the final segment of an eight-part article.

giving-service.jpgThis is one of the greatest of all stress solving secrets and, it's the first one I learned. So, I saved the best for last. I did not have a very happy home life as a teenager. It wasn't as bad as some people I know, but it wasn't a really happy life either. As a result, I became quite depressed in my early teens. The biggest thing that pulled me out of it was learning to be of service to others.

It happened like this—I was on a scout camping trip and I noticed that all the “outcasts” of the troop came and set up camp near me.  I realized that these were all the kids that got chosen last to play and who were really not welcomed into their scout patrols.  So, I got an idea.  I went to the scoutmaster and I pointed out that these kids all felt left out in their various scout patrols.  I also pointed out that I was one of the most knowledgeable and highest ranking scouts in the troop, but wasn't considered “cool” and therefore never got elected to be a patrol leader.  I asked him if he would make me a patrol leader and give me all the “outcasts.”

Thus, the “mole patrol” was born. I worked with these guys, gave them a feeling of belonging and helped them advance in rank in scouting.  After a year, we became the best patrol in the troop as far as achievement goes, and I quit feeling sorry for myself because I was helping kids who were worse off than I was.

As a side note, after about a year, the scoutmaster decided to break up our patrol and assign these kids to other patrols because they were “leaders” as he put it.  I told him this was a mistake, but he did it anyway and most of these kids slipped right back into being outcasts. However, just a couple of years ago I went to a reunion and saw many of the young men who were in my patrol. They all had very fond memories of our times together.  One had a son with a handicap. He told me that he wished that his son had a "mole patrol."

Still, the lesson was one I never forgot. Our lives have more meaning when we serve others. When we lift others, we lift ourselves. And, when we know how to give value to others we rarely lack for meaningful work.

Well, there you have it—my Seven Stress Solving Secrets. Put them into practice and you'll find yourself stressing less and being more productive in these troubled times.