“There are ultimately only two possible adjustments to life; one is to suit our lives to principles; the other is to suit principles to our lives. If we do not live as we think, we soon begin to think as we live.” – Fulton J. Sheen.
Most people’s favorite topic is themselves. When they are not talking to others about self then they are thinking of self. Endless thoughts of what they need, what they want, what they are not getting, bombard their mental space. As we focus on self our world shrinks and so do our possibilities. The more we focus on self, the smaller becomes our world view. We see only our image in the mirror and the incessant needs of self become a bottomless pit.
“The world spins, but not around you!” ― Jasper Comstock
We can see this in others so easily. The boss who seems to take credit for our ideas. The mate who won’t do for us what we think they should and we call them selfish. The child who has an endless list of wants with very little thanks for what they have. Perhaps we all have that friend that whenever the phone rings we are just waiting for what their ask will be. They don’t call until and unless they need something.
When we place these sort of demands on others, be it financial or emotional, it starts to wear thin on our relationships. We may think we are quite generous, but what are our motives? If we give, because we want recognition, then others will feel our demand and may resist giving us deserved praise. We may help someone to fill our own need for purpose. So how do we stop this bottomless pit of self-centeredness?
We become aware of our thoughts first. We monitor how often they dwell on self. Once we become aware then we can take action. We direct our thoughts to another. We may call someone to check up on them just because. We think of a situation and instead of working angles to get something out if it, we focus on what we have to contribute or offer. We give without expectations. We know we’ve done this if we can give advice and we are not reactive if the person chooses not to follow it. When we give advice and then become reactive at their lack of ‘obedience’ then we know our motives were not pure.
Detachment is they key. We can detach from expected outcomes, we can detach from expectations, we can detach from our own incessant thoughts. Instead we just show up with the mind set that we are living our lives, sharing our experience and it’s none of our business what others think or how they choose to behave. This is the great paradox. By showing up for ourselves and living our own life we are less concerned with others and we are less concerned with how to manipulate them to our way of thinking.
“When we fear what other people think about us, we are frequently more focused on ‘being interesting’ and less focused on ‘taking an interest.’ That’s why many people talk a great deal when they are anxious and why many people never feel heard. If both people and conversation are trying to be interesting, there is no one left to genuinely listen.” John Yokoyama.
Instead we focus on the next right thing for our well being. As much self thought as we have, very rarely do we focus that self thought on how to take care of ourselves in healthy ways. We are turned inside out focusing on our wants and neglecting our basic needs. We may not know how to ask for our needs in healthy ways; and it may come out sideways or in a state of anger.
Eat well. Sleep enough. Exercise. Turn our thoughts to those of service. Have thanks. Laugh often. Don’t take ourselves too seriously. Let go of our petty complaints. These are all things too simple to be the key to a joyful life. If they are so simple, then why do we struggle so much doing them with any consistency?