The truth is, the more you think about yourself, the more dissatisfying life becomes. Stress grows bigger and scarier than it really is, accomplishments become few and fer between, and your overall view on life is a lot more pessimistic.
How else would you feel when nothing seems to be working in your favor and the world isn’t being influenced by your gravitational pull. If only we would take a moment to uncurl our blistered hands, drop the rope and look up at our opponent. We’ll quickly realize we don’t have much of a chance fighting against the pull of the universe.
All this is to say, we aren’t the center of the universe, we weren’t meant to be, and life is much better lived when we grasp this reality.
It’s funny though, or rather a little disheartening that our propensity is then not to be selfless but to be so selfish. As a member of the infamous Y Generation, I can hardly raise a petition to the absurd yet very true labeling of our tendencies.
For those of us fixated on security and success we study hard, network harder, and dream of a glamorous life.
For those of us immersed in religion, we pray earnestly, put on peace always, and perform miserably.
For those of us captivated by love and affection, we begin our search early, have sex flippantly, and love all too easily.
We can conceal our motives with an array of paints, costumes, or emotions, but when our life’s greatest motivator is our future and our pleasure, these potentially fulfilling and beautiful endeavors of life mutate into the Golems we force them to become. And quite frankly, it only causes us to suffer. We become beasts of our own greed, locked up in the cell of our selfishness.
But it’s not a lost cause because I have felt the liberty following generosity. I have experienced a genuine smile more real than the smile looking at my bank account or the smile of satisfaction of a well-dressed man.
This is what I want, and this is what I intend to pursue. And it starts off small, but it’s about changing tendencies. It’s about posturing ourselves to want to be different and to instinctively think differently.
Read about the lives of other people
Here’s a list of books that have helped give me perspective and redirected me when I started becoming the sole focus of my life.
Pray for causes and problems beyond yourself
We’ll occasionally read a story about poverty or shed a tear over oppression, but prayer gives a different meaning to suffering if we are willing to share in the burden. When we really buy into the hardships and struggles of our neighbors both here and abroad, our first-world problems will become things we’re more ashamed to confess than things we hashtag.
Meet others to hear their story
Sometimes it’ll be like watching an epic movie. You get to hear of a story, compelling, heart-breaking, riveting, and all-together real. You get to learn, to encourage, to grow, and to gain perspective. And if all goes well, you’ve got a friend, a business partner, or maybe even a spouse!
Buy someone a meal
“Where you spend your money, that’ s where your heart is.”
It’s hard to ignore the evidence we have in our own lives to prove this. You could easily say it’s your affection that drives your spending, but see what happens when you start spending on people you aren’t partial towards. The effort and meaning of hard-earned money will translate into passion and attention. And in this day and age, people will freak when you do this, and I’m pretty confident it’s a good kind of freaking out.
Serve simply because you can
On a platform where productivity hacks are the way to go, I’ll be a rebel and say free time doesn’t always have to be productive. In fact, taking time to help your church, your community, or world at large can help maximize the remaining time you do have because it allows you a moment to breathe air that hasn’t been recycled by your constant sighing.
Unwind and hang out
I’ll admit this one is pretty hard for me, but it only takes a few good laughs to remind me there’s nothing relaxing and having a good time with friends can’t heal. Who knows if it’s the 5 minute ab-making laughter that’ll finally convince you, you need to work out. Productive right?
It doesn’t make sense really, but think about the times you were tired, out of time, or even poorer because you were helping out. I’ll tell you what you weren’t doing when you were sacrificing for someone else. You weren’t busy judging that person. You weren’t occupied seeing what you could gain from this person. Best of all, you weren’t thinking about yourself.
OK, so hanging out with friends isn’t the only one I struggle with. In fact, I pretty much wrestle with all of these ideas. But I write about them because I know them to be true.
Whether you’re trying to find the next big idea, trying to catch what’s trending, or searching for a sense of purpose, you won’t find the answer by looking at yourself. You’ll find it in the bitterness of their voices, the strength of their patriotism, the addictions of their present, and their expectations for the future.
And as long as you’re sitting there attempting to figure life out through the lens of your ambition, your self-reliance, and your tactics, you’ll miss out on what’s happening in everyone’s world.