Finding Purpose Through Serving Others
Editor’s Note: This featured article was written by 18-year-old Paige Kouh, from Pennsylvania, United States.
We have all fallen into the trap of pondering over what the purpose of life is. This may very well be the most difficult question a person can ask someone and leaves even the very best of us bewildered.
After having taken a considerable amount of time to answer this question myself, I have managed to find the answer through examining what it is that I believe in.
I believe in the stars and the moon and the fact that they hold such a wondrous beauty, which cannot be found anywhere else. Some nights when I sit by my window, pop on my headphones, and stare up at the night sky, I become overwhelmed with the undeniable feeling of knowing I am a part of a life that is so much larger than myself.
This feeling leads me to be satisfied with no less than the best version of myself as I continue on throughout the rest of my days. This same feeling inspires me to help anyone who needs it and to offer help even if no one is asking. This feeling brings a smile to my face because this feeling is called love. A love which lasts through centuries and burns brighter than any star up in the clearest night sky.
I soon recognized my immense love for helping others after my recent trip to Thailand, and this love quickly evolved into a pure passion I have for doing service. This past July I was given the opportunity to travel to rural Thailand, with 20 other incredible girls, to participate in multiple service work projects. Over the course of about a month I taught at several elementary schools, assisted in the construction of a new floor for a middle school, and worked at the Sappraiwan elephant sanctuary.
Traveling to Thailand was my first time traveling to Asia and my first time traveling abroad on my own. The thought of traveling on your own to a brand new country can be quite terrifying to a seventeen year old, but any fear I had completely faded once I caught a glimpse of a smile from one of the children my first day in Thailand. Being away on my own and living out of my duffel bag allowed me to fully immerse myself in this new culture and experience that was being introduced to me; and who knew that I would be able to discover so much of myself so far away from home.
Through the grace of service I have seen love in the hand paved dirt roads, heard it in the laughter of joyful children, and felt it from the generosity that touched my heart from people who had so little but were willing to give me so much. I will always strive to keep service a part of my day to day life and I will do my best to pass the importance of service to others.
Therefore, every night when I look up at the stars and the moon from my tiny bedroom window, I am reminded of how service, and beautiful people like those I met in Thailand, have taught me to give freely with an open heart and how I believe in the importance of service and spreading love to as many people my lifetime will allow.
Circling back to the original question, what is the purpose of life? Maybe the purpose of life is simply whatever each of us believes it to be and pursuing that belief to the best of our ability. However, I have learned that in order to do so you have to be honest, open, and true to yourself and not pursue what you think will please everyone else. Which can be a challenge, because the person it is the most difficult to be vulnerable with is yourself. Finding purpose comes with finding yourself and finding your beliefs.
Not too long ago I came across a quote. This particular quote, while short and sweet, fully encompasses what I believe to be my purpose in life, and I would love nothing more than to share this quote with all of you.
“Lose yourself in the service of others.” - Gandhi
I know that I am only seventeen; therefore I also know that there is still so much about life I am oblivious to. However, even in such a short amount of time, I have learned a great deal from experiences that some may never get a chance to have in their lifetime; and for that I will be forever grateful. Service has taught me about a love that is stronger than any other kind. A universal love. One that is not defined by language, race, or religion. But a love that is created from kindness, laughter, and simply reaching out a helping hand to as many people as possible. Someday, I hope that everyone will be able to share and feel this “Universal Love” and I hope that each and every one of you will also find your purpose in what you believe.