Billions of people work very hard to achieve their goals. Many among them also achieve what they set out to do. For example, someone starts his professional life with a view to obtain a nice, secure position in a reputed organization ; gets a nice life-partner ; accumulates a good bank-balance, etc and succeeds in doing all that he wants. He should then be happy, contented and satisfied.
Experience shows otherwise. A great number of people achieve this seemingly blissful state but are hardly happy. Why is this so ? Maybe they forget what they set out to achieve or are unable to recognise when they have it. Or, they have revised their initial targets to much higher levels since there is no end to material desires. Or, they are comparing themselves to someone higher and are dissatisfied with their achievements. Whatever it may be, many people achieve a lot of material success but don't seem to be happy, content and peaceful. What then could be a possible explanation for this apparent contradiction ?
The answer lies in the fact that obtaining a nice position in a reputable organisation, having a nice life-partner, large bank-balance, etc are all parts of material success. These contribute to many material comforts but are not sufficient in themselves to give the feeling of peacefulness, contentment and happiness.
Then, what brings satisfaction ? The answer lies in knowing that one is simply not a material body that we see, but is much more than that. Material success is related to one's material body but since we are spirit souls, we need different types of successes.
The constitutional position of a soul is that he is part of God. Lord Krishna states in the Bhagavad-Geeta that living entities are “mama eva anshah” (15.7), that is His parts and parcels. And, a part must always serve just like one's finger must always serve his body. As long as the finger serves the body, both the finger and the body are satisfied. As soon as the finger stops serving the body, as is the case of a paralysed person, no one is happy. Similarly, a soul or a living entity must always serve others and help others in order to be happy, peaceful and satisfied.
This fact can be understood by the following story : There is a very famous chat -vendor who operates behind a five-star hotel in Delhi. His prices are low and easily affordable even for the poorest. Since the quality of his products is very good, he even attracts the elite. This has intrigued many and a reporter wanted to do a story on him. He asked the vendor why he did not raise his price and open a better place rather than continue to operate from the street. This was very much possible given the fact that he commanded a wealthy clientele. This way he would be able to encash upon his huge goodwill.
The vendor is reported to have replied : "I intentionally keep my prices low to allow my products to be affordable to the poorest. And, I like to see happiness in their faces. That is my happiness. The vendor is wise since he has realised that serving other living entities brings happiness. Logically speaking, one cannot be useful to others unless one helps them or serves their needs. Similarly, one can be hardly acceptable to others unless one does something to their liking. We must reconcile to the fact that we must serve to be happy ; our attempts to serve or try to please the dead matter, that is, our bodies shall never bring satisfaction to us, as is our experience, too.
As far as serving goes, a person may feel that he is actually serving so many. Since serving is the constitutional position of the living entities, he definitely serves his own body ; may also serve bodies of his relatives, his employer, and his clientele. But actual service means something done for no material gain otherwise it is a commercial transaction. Example of actual service is feeding the poor, giving shelter to them, etc, but the highest service is connecting the fellow human beings to the Almighty which is what the spiritual practitioners do.