The seeds of doubt were planted at a young age. I can’t tell you exactly when, but I know it started in childhood. I was lead to believe I wasn’t capable, that I would struggle in this life. In particular, concerns surrounded my abilities in English. At first, my parents worried that I had a … Read more Why I Write
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman (Source: The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman: A Visionary for Our Time) I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, ‘what do you mean the ONLY … Read more The Only Thing The World Needs From You
The other night, while I was trying to sleep, I started thinking about the post I wrote last week where I stated that hatred is driven – at its core – by a fear of death. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing something fundamental. Naturally this started to make me feel a little anxious. … Read more Why Everything Scares You To Death
That’s the most liberating, wonderful thing in the world, when you openly admit you’re an ass. It’s wonderful. When people tell me, “You’re wrong.” I say, “What can you expect of an ass?” S.J. Anthony de mello – SOURCE: AWARENESS “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent … Read more The Secret Ingredient Missing From Every Conversation
“The principle of freedom must be our first commitment, for without this no one is immune against the virus of aggrandizement – the impulse to grab power, wealth, position, or reputation at the expense of others.” – Herbert Douglass – SourCE:The Cost Of Freedom True freedom is a commitment to experiencing the very real limitations … Read more Why Freedom Demands Responsibility
Hello lovely readers and welcome back to 3-2-1 Flying Fridays! The only weekly post that takes an extended break without telling anyone… (I missed you all too!)
Following a 3-2-1 approach, it contains 3 thoughts from me (that you should ignore), 2 quotes from others (that you should read), and 1 something special (maybe).
As a bonus I’ve finished with one joke that’s so bad, it’s good!
3 x Thoughts:
1) If you think of a task in its entirety it can often feel overwhelming. Like staring up at a dragon. If that’s the case, don’t tell yourself you have to take down the whole dragon today. Just see if you can take a step closer to the cave that it’s residing in. Simply sharpen your sword. Get your armour ready. Whatever it is – reduce your ambition till you find the task you are willing to do and then move towards it.
2)A low energy life is a dangerous one. To live optimally you need look after your energy levels. You need to match the amount you’re carrying to the amount of drive you have available depending on the time or day. That might mean letting something go, which can be hard. But if you don’t – if you carry too much weight – you run the risk of stalling. This makes things much harder.
3) Often the reason we don’t gain energy from/motivation for an activity is to do with our relationship towards it, not the activity itself.
2 x Quotes:
“Show me a man who isn’t a slave; one who is a slave to sex, another to money, another to ambition; all are slaves to hope or fear.”
“Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakes.”
“A good way to distinguish feelings from thoughts is to remember that feelings can often be summarised in one word – nervous, happy, surprised, scared – and thoughts are the ideas that drive or follow the feelings… practise labelling them whenever you have the opportunity. For example, if during a dinner, your guest suddenly got quiet and you thought: ‘He doesn’t like talking with me,’ acknowledge that you’re working with a thought that may or may not be true, and then consider the feeling that came with that thought. An example of a more accurate way to describe what happened is: ‘When he got silent during dinner, I felt sad because I thought he didn’t like talking with me.’ Remember that feelings are not debatable – you just feel how you feel, even when you wish you didn’t. Your thoughts, on the other hand, can be challenged, revised or replaced with more realistic and useful ones.“
1 x Joke:
We took our kids to beach yesterday.
I turned to my eldest and said, “How does the sea say hi to the beach?”
“One should never do something to others that one would regard as an injury to one’s own self. In brief, this is dharma. Anything else is succumbing to desire.”
— MAHĀBHĀRATA 13.114.8 (CRITICAL EDITION)
It’s ironic that the fictional character Joey from friends, who everyone laughed at for being a bit slow, was also the character to come out with one of the most profound statements of the entire show when he argued with Phoebe that,
“There is no such thing as a truly self-less good deed.”
I agree with him.
Whether you’d care to admit it almost every action we make is motivated on some level by selfish intent. Even a charitable act is motivated on some level by your desire to feel good.
That’s not to say there is anything wrong with this – in fact, quite the opposite – it’s just something to be aware of. After all, if we weren’t motivated on some level by a desire to feel good, or to avoid feeling bad, then why would we do anything? We need something to motivate us. For that reason there has to be an element of self-interest behind our actions.
Anyway, why do I bring this up?
I heard the expression intelligent self-interest mentioned on a podcast a while back. This got me thinking about what this means and how we can make our self-interests more intelligent.
When I dug a little deeper I came to understand, although they are described/defined somewhat differently by various articles on the subject we can, broadly speaking, look at self-interest on three different levels.
Those are unintelligent (or stupid as I like to think of it), intelligent and enlightened self-interest.
This post is going to define each and look at how we can cultivate the latter two.
What is unintelligent self-interest?
Unintelligent self-interest is the personal interest of an individual that, if pursued, hurts others and/or themselves.
Some obvious examples of unintelligent-interest include binge watching NETFLIX, drug abuse, smoking, mindlessly scrolling on social media, etc.
You know, all the things you shouldn’t be doing that every blogger and his dog bang on about everyday. (All the things I’ve done before, and in some cases still do…)
These are unintelligent forms of self interest because they satisfy a desire at the expense of our longer term health and happiness.
We also tend to think because I’m only doing these things to myself that’s ok. I’m not hurting anyone else.
But that’s wrong.
What hurts you ultimately hurts others. By not working to resolve past trauma or avoiding negative emotions instead of doing what you ought to, you can trust me when I tell you this, not only does this hurt yourself it also hurts those around you.
How then can we make our self-interests more intelligent and what does it mean?
What is intelligent self interest?
Intelligent self-interest is still about acting in ways that suit you, however, it also considers the ways in which it helps others.
It is about thinking of the other person while acting for yourself, i.e. you’re not acting without regard for others.
Some obvious examples of intelligent self-interest include meditation, exercise, a healthy diet, plentiful sleep, etc.
You know, all the things you should do that every blogger and his dog bang on about everyday.
These are intelligent forms of self interest because you’re acting in a way that not only benefits your own longer term health and happiness, it also benefits others.
After all, a happier and healthier you is a happier and healthier world. Further, you cannot look after others without first looking after yourself.
One of the problems that proponents of such activities have is the way in which they frame their motivations. They talk on and on about the benefits they have for you. How meditation, exercise and a balanced diet helps you.
Often they over emphasise the benefits these activities have for you without considering the larger reasons beyond the immediate.
If you want to make mediation a habit, as an example, it’s far better to consider how taking the time to cultivate mindfulness is of benefit to your family and friends, as well as yourself.
One way to do this is by asking yourself the following question:
I believe one of the major reasons our motivations stall is because we don’t feel we’re good enough (fear) and so give up far too easily. This is a problem many of us have when focusing solely on ourselves. If you take the focus away from yourself and instead remind yourself of the other people in your life for whom you’re doing these things (love), you’re far more likely to stick with it.
At least I know I am.
Instead of beating ourselves up for not being good enough and metaphorically whipping ourselves to do something about it, why not focus on feeling good about doing the things that ultimately help others too?
It’s a win win.
This brings us to the final level on the self-interest scale that I made up. The question I have is how can we act in enlightened self-interest that helps others? How can we see that helping others does in fact help ourselves? Let’s first explore what it means.
What is enlightened self-interest?
Enlightened self-interest is acting for others without expecting anything in return.
Some obvious examples of enlightened self-interest include donating to charity, volunteer work, saving someones life, etc.
You know, all the things every blogger and his dog probably should be going on about everyday but don’t.
These are acts done from the goodness of ones hearts. They aren’t done in expectation of gaining anything personally.
I would make a point that this is very different to acting out of a sense of responsibility or obligation – because you think it’s the right thing to do.
It’s far deeper than that.
Enlightened self-interest understands that although no obvious attributable gain for oneself has been made, a bit like the beautiful philosophical idea of karma, what comes around goes around.
People who act in enlightened self-interest understand we are all part of the same world. That by hurting another you’re ultimately hurting yourself.
This is why it’s heavily related to the Golden rule: To treat others as you would like others to treat you.
Or, to put it as a question, one can ask themselves,
How would I want others to help me if I were in their position?
Enlightened self-interests come about as a by-product of truly wanting to help this world, as you would like it to be for you. By thinking in terms of how your actions will affect others we can, bit by bit, develop enlightened self-interest naturally. It’s simply a matter of acting in the interests of your heart.
(As always I welcome ALL comments and ideas on this blog. If you have anything to add or any other suggestions about how develop more intelligent self-interest I’d love to hear from you in the comments sections below)