One of the problems we have is the way many proponents of certain activities sell them to you.
Because they’re trying to sell you something they prey on your insecurities. They talk on and on about the benefits they have for you. How meditation, exercise and a balanced diet helps you. How you need this app. How you need to eat this food. How you need to go to this gym. How you are incomplete without this, that or what-the-fuck ever…
Often they’ll over emphasise the benefits these activities have for you without mentioning the larger reasons beyond the immediate. It’s easier to sell you something that way. It just doesn’t help with motivation in the longer term. So you keep coming back for the next best thing to fix your life.
By the by, did no-one tell you that you don’t need a meditation app to meditate?
If you want to make something like mediation a habit 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. As in, don’t just concentrate on what something is doing for you, consider what your actions are doing for everybody else as well.
Hello fine readers and welcome to my Motivational Mondays Post – a weekly newsletter that attempts to rewrite the narrative Mondays are the most depressing day of the week. (Or at least start it off in a slightly better fashion.)
Following a 4:3:2:1 approach, it contains 4 exceptional thoughts from me (ha), 3 admittedly better quotes from others, and 2 things I’ve been reading and/or listening to this week that have helped me grow.
As always I’ve finished with 1 something silly to hopefully make you all smile.
Love to all X
(To my lovely readers: If you have any suggestions, thoughts or ideas about today’s weekly post I’d love to hear from you in the comments at the bottom. Thank you all so much for reading.)
4 x Thoughts From Me:
What if the only thing that is wrong with you is that you think there is something wrong with you?
Sit down every night and pat yourself on the back for the things you did well and then examine the ways in which you could have done better. Bring both your sense of accomplishment and willingness to improve into your next day. You will go far by making this a daily habit.
We talk about the possibility of being alone in this universe as if the world we live in isn’t enough. I think we all need a better understanding of what enough actually is.
Intelligent self interest is about understanding we are all part of the same world. That to hurt another is to hurt yourself. I would go so far as to say how you treat others is how you treat yourself. Kindness to others extends inwards as well as out. The same is as true for anger or hatred. You give fuel to those feelings within by acting on them. Be sure to choose forgiveness over resentment, kindness over hate and love over fear.
3 x Quotes From Others:
“There are two core fears: losing what you have and not getting what you want. There is one solution: falling in love with where you are.” – Jeff Foster
“Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?” – Rumi
“I believe that we are here on this star in space to try to help one another. Right? And first we have to survive, and then we have to thrive. And to thrive, to express ourselves, alright, well, here’s the rub: we have to know ourselves. What do you love? And if you get close to what you love, who you are is revealed to you, and it expands.”
“It’s a thing that worries me sometimes whenever you talk about creativity, because it can have this kind of feel that it’s just nice, you know, or it’s warm or it’s something pleasant. It’s not. It’s vital.”
“What makes kids so beautifully creative, is that they don’t have any habits, and they don’t care if they’re any good or not, right? They’re not building a sandcastle going, “I think I’m going to be a really good sandcastle builder.” They just throw themselves at whatever project you put in front of them — dancing, doing a painting, building something: any opportunity they have, they try to use it to impress upon you their individuality. It’s so beautiful. “
“If you want to help your community, if you want to help your family, if you want to help your friends, you have to express yourself. And to express yourself, you have to know yourself. It’s actually super easy. You just have to follow your love. There is no path. There’s no path till you walk it, and you have to be willing to play the fool.“
Having spent the last 4 days confined to a hotel room it was a relief to arrive back in Hong Kong this morning.
Unfortunately, because of the recent spike in cases here, it’s now mandatory that all crew, as well as passengers, be tested for COVID on arrival.
As I waited in line a lady dressed in a bio hazard suit assembled my COVID testing kit. She explained to me that I needed to deposit my specimen in a small plastic cup over in one of booths set up behind her.
She’d omitted the word saliva…
I couldn’t help myself.
“That’s an awful lot of pressure,” I replied jokingly. “Do you have any magazines or anything that might help the process along?”
“Oh yes,” she replied clearly not registering, “you can watch a video that demonstrates how to do it on one of the big screen over there.”
“Hmmm, I’m not sure that will help,” I said as she handed me my testing kit.
She was clearly perplexed.
Probably a good thing she couldn’t see me smirking behind my face mask.
I walked to the booth in shame.
Till next week…
Have a Happy F***ing Monday Everybody!
P.S. Don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle this week!
“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)