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Forgetting Self

To forget oneself is to be happy.

—Robert Louis Stevenson

I do not consider myself to be a selfish person. But when I really stop to think about how much time I spend thinking about me—about my decisions and my problems and my shortcomings and my future—I can’t help but realize how indirectly selfish I can be. When I can forget about myself and focus on the world, I am a much happier person. When I am not thinking about myself, I am able to help/interact with others, learn about the world, and appreciate all that exists around me.

It is easy to get wrapped up in self-appraisal, especially in a culture where individual achievement is so highly emphasized. More so for someone like myself, who has a strong propensity for analysis and introspection. In other words, as many people close to me have told me over and over, I think too much. And, as much as it stings to admit it, most of the time it is essentially all about me, myself, and I.

I need to stop taking myself so seriously. Forget about me. Take a step back and appreciate the world. And, ironically, this selflessness will ultimately bring me more peace and happiness.

Today I will forget about myself as an individual
and pay attention to and appreciate the world around me.

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.

Carl Jung

This touches on perhaps the most universal of all questions: What is the purpose of existence? This question haunts me every day of my life and sometimes I feel like the purpose of my existence is simply to avoid asking myself this question. Or else to go certifiably insane. And while this statement made by Carl Jung does not satisfy all my questions, it does lend an interesting perspective on, perhaps, a piece of the answer.

My basic interpretation is this: “You are here. You don’t know why you are here. But while you are here, make the most of it.” Although the problem then becomes figuring out what “making the most of it” is supposed to mean. Maybe it means creating beauty and art in the world. Maybe it means searching for and discovering truths. Maybe it means bringing peace to others. I guess each person can choose their own way to “kindle a light in the darkness.”

¤

Today I will illuminate existence with my unique qualities
and find peace in knowing that this is my purpose.

Action

Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I spend a lot of my time thinking, analyzing, introspecting. But I spend very little time actually doing anything about all these thoughts. I second guess every decision I attempt to make, to the point where I never decide (and thus never act) at all. There is value in thinking things through before acting, but if you only think and never act, then you are missing out on the other half of life.

Today I will think less and act more.

Life is a grindstone, and whether it grinds a man down or polishes him up depends on the stuff he’s made of.
–Josh Billings

I came across many quotes that talked about how adversity reveals a person’s true character, but I liked this one the best, I suppose for its imagery. It is empowering because it suggests that you already are a precious gem, you just need to be polished in order to shine. And polishing is only achieved through friction. This helps me to see adversity as a positive thing, an occasion for growth and refinement, as opposed to a reason to crumble.

I am a diamond and I will shine through adversity.

Peace is the Way

There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.

–A. J. Muste–

Like so many things in life, it seems we are always focused on our destination, rather than on our journey. But we cannot strive to find peace, we must simply embody it. Peace is a state of mind. It is a conscious decision to remain calm in the face of adversity. It is an attitude of acceptance for our current state of existence. Irrespective of our desires or actions taken to change circumstances, and irrespective of our ability to do so, there always exists the possibility, the option, to live peacefully.

~

Today I will go about my day in a spirit of peace.
Peace of mind, body, heart and soul.

No Expectations

Today’s quote:

No expectations. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t set things up for the future. It does mean that we would do well not to become attached to particular outcomes. We’d do better focusing our effort on being present rather than on insisting on what the future must be.

–Steve Hagen–

Reflection:

Until you really stop to think about it, you don’t even realize the difference between plans and expectations. I love this quote because it slows you down and separates these ideas for you. It also debunks the myth that “having no expectations” = “having no plans.” Not true at all. The plans I make will guide my path but they cannot predict or control what I will find along that path. Release your expectations of what will happen as you go and just be content that you have chosen a direction. It relates back to that quote from the Bible (I think) about “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” If I am ever to feel at peace in my life, I will need to learn how to accept and release those things which I do not control.

Affirmation:

Today I will let go of expectations and accept things the way they are.

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