How Does Being of Service Keep Me Sober?

Being of service is stressed from the very beginning of anyone involved in a 12 step program. But what does it mean exactly and why is it so important? Explore the importance of being of service and the myriad of ways you can help give back to your recovery community.

What is ‘being of service’?


Being of service, in short, is a critical component of your journey to recovery and finding peace within yourself. And it isn’t just a concept unique to AA. Though we may have turned the phrase ‘being of service’ into a recovery colloquialism, service work is a concept prevalent in every major religion. Whether you are Buddhist, Christian, Hindi or Islamic, helping others is almost always an integral part in finding spiritual happiness.

Any interaction with another person can begin with loving behavior at the beginning, but being of service is often superseded by selfish motives that would otherwise make the experience fulfilling. Being mindful of your own selfishness can help you live a less stressful life by being in tune with the flow of life, recognizing how you can help others while, in turn, you help yourself.


Why is being of service so important?


Many people are misled in the concept of how they can go about ‘attaining’ love, never realizing that you reach that kind of fulfillment by giving love. When you open up your heart to this concept, you will find opportunities to be of service falling at your feet, whether at work or home.

Eckhart Tolle, one of the most influential spiritual teachers of our time, had this to say about service work:


“Then there is another way of giving – when the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. You don’t have the self-image of yourself giving. You allow yourself to be a vehicle through which [good] energy flows out into the world. To be of service, then, is a beautiful spiritual practice because the ego is out of the way. When you begin to live in that way, you are always in service to others. Even in ordinary situations that would not normally be recognized as service. The greatest service is to realize the essence, or the reality, of the other person.”


What are some ways I can be of service?


You don’t have to be a member of a 12 step program to be of service. The concept of helping others is so pervasive in society that you will trip over a million ways to help others every single day-if you look for them. It is easy to ignore the opportunity to hold the door open for the person behind you, or not throwing away trash you see because it isn’t yours. But even these small actions can add up.

If you are in any kind of 12 step program, the possibilities of service are near endless. Grab a commitment. Help out on a commitment even if you do not have one. Be sure to talk to a newcomer at every meeting you go to. If you are a newcomer yourself, talk to someone with even less time than you. Recognize when you ignore situations to help somebody because you ‘have something more important to do’. You will be surprised how good you feel by spending a few minutes of your day helping others when you otherwise might not have.


How are you being of service?


What are some ways that you have found to be of service? There have been plenty of times I have found myself saying ‘yes’ to things without even thinking because of how engrained the importance of helping others is in me. I have found myself in wonderfully rewarding relationships as a result of sticking my hand out, finding new and unique ways of service work. Comment below with some of your experiences!


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