Today on Mindful Monday, we’re talking selflessness: how selflessness can lead to happiness, how to practice it, and how self-care can actually be selfless. Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend.
About a month or so ago, I sat in on a meditation class where the topic of conversation was selflessness and how selflessness can lead to happiness and contentment.
I’d like to consider myself a pretty selfless person – I care deeply and wholeheartedly about the health and wellbeing of others, which is why I chose this field. However, upon listening to this discussion and further examination of myself, I realized I’d fallen into some selfish tendencies lately. As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly thinking about my business and myself – Is this project worth my time? Will I make enough money to reach my financial goals? Will this opportunity bring me other opportunities? The internal dialogue often comes back to investment. My investment of time and the investment of money. And I’m noticing how the conversation has shifted to this rather than how an opportunity will make me feel and more importantly, how will this make the person on the other end feel? Owning your own business is the most rewarding thing you can do. But it’s made my life like The Kara Lydon Show 24-7. And sometimes I just want to change the channel. Being selfish can bring us temporary happiness and contentment but it doesn’t last.
What Is Selflessness?
True selflessness is acting without thinking about how we will profit or benefit.
Why Practice Selflessness?
- Being selfless helps us identify and connect with others and that in and of itself is rewarding.
- It helps squash our egos because we are not acting out of pride or for a desire to be noticed.
- Selflessness helps us act from our heart and soul instead of our ego, tapping into our true desired feelings.
- It helps improve our relationships – rather than expecting your S.O. or friend to make you feel a certain way, you can shift your focus to being in the relationship for the other person.
- It’s contagious. We want to be around generous, loving, giving people. These are the people that ultimately make the world a better place.
How To Practice Selflessness
Have you ever been caught in a conversation with someone who is just talking your ear off and your mind starts to drift and all you can think about is all the better things you could be doing with your time? I’m sure we’ve all had an experience like this in one shape, form, or another. Well, what if you could practice selflessness here instead? Give that person your upmost attention. Look at that person and think to yourself how that person is just like you. How that person is a human being with feelings, worries, dreams, and fears just like you. Connect with that person because that is what that person needs. You don’t know what may be going on that person’s life. Maybe all he/she needs is someone to listen. Someone to connect with. And you could change that person’s day, week, or even year by being present and staying and listening. You just don’t know.
And we can practice selflessness in our relationships, marriages, and friendships every day. Rather than thinking how this relationship is supposed to make you feel, shift the focus and make it about the other person. Think, “May you be happy” and “I am in this for you.” Notice how it impacts your relationships and your connections with others who are close to you. We hold all these expectations for our loved ones – parents, siblings, S.O.’s, friends, and by holding these expectations, often times we come up disappointed. By shifting the attention and purpose back to them and how you can help them, you’re changing the dialogue and the connection. You’re setting yourself up for contentment.
And when it comes to work and/or owning your own business, if you feel like the work you do is self-focused, then how can you invite some service towards others into your life? Last summer, I invested some of my time in volunteering. I volunteered with Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters teaching nutrition to low-income women as part of a weekly cooking class. Yes, it was an investment of my little free time and no, I didn’t get paid. But that wasn’t the point. The point was to turn off The Kara Lydon Show and do something for the greater good of others, not asking for anything in return. And you know what, every time I walked out of that community center, my heart was so full it felt like it could explode. And that’s exactly what selflessness does – helps you find a deeper connection to others, to yourself, and fills your soul with contentment.
But What About Self-Care? Is that Selfish?
I talk about self-care pretty often in my Mindful Monday posts so I want to be clear on the distinction between selfishness and self-care. Some may disagree with me on this one but IMO, if self-care is practiced with the lens of “I’m taking care of myself so I in return I can take care of others”, this is not selfish. If you take a yoga class, go for a run, get a massage, book a wellness retreat, with the intention of helping yourself so you can be of better service to those around you, ain’t no shame. I think that’s still selfless.But if all of your self-care acts are done thinking about yourself and your own happiness and not how it will impact your loved ones, then perhaps the dialogue can still shift a little.
This stuff doesn’t happen overnight and I constantly have to remind myself of this. There is no “perfecting” selflessness. It’s a journey. It’s a work-in-progress. Allow yourself to have slip-ups and obstacles, because you will. Allow it to feel awkward, because it might. But as long as you can start generating some awareness around your tendencies and thought patterns, you’re on the right track.
Do you ever feel like you get caught up in your own daytime television special? How can you shift your dialogue? What steps can you take to be more selfless in your day-to-day life? And how does being selfless make you feel?
Sending you love and gratitude for reading today.