Having been involved in planning a wedding for the better part of the last year I have seen many emotional, and sometimes dramatic, scenes involving the interaction of different people. Most of these have provided great food for thought and have given me an insight into the psychology of people and how they interact with others. One thing I noticed throughout this time is that most people don't know how to be selfless. People like to think they are (or at least that they can be) selfless but in reality this is far from true. I am not being overly critical here but just realising that being selfless, and putting others ahead of yourself is actually a very hard thing to do.
We are all individual beings and deep down we all are trying to do what is best for ourselves. In an evolutionary/survival frame of mind this makes a lot of sense but in our modern society where we exist as part of a large community group, and do not have direct competition for resources to survive, we need to be able to think about others. We need to practice selflessness.
I say practice because the skill of selflessness does not come naturally. Most people find selfishness much easier than selflessness. It's natural. But that doesn't mean it's always the best choice.
Most dictionaries will define selflessness something along the lines of:
The act of sacrificing personal interest for the good of others
Which basically means that you put other people's interest ahead of your own. That's a pretty neat idea in theory but not so easy to apply contextually. Being selfless is a very easy thing to say you do, but a very hard thing to actually do because it requires that you master yourself first.
Selflessness is About Mastering Yourself
Proper selflessness involves a great deal of self awareness, self control, and self confidence:
- If you are not aware of your internal drivers and why you act the way you do then you will not achieve selflessness
- If you are not in control of your own thoughts, actions, and words then you will not achieve selflessness
- If you are not confident and happy with the person you are then you will not achieve selflessness.
To achieve selflessness you need to master yourself first. Sometimes the immediate happiness of someone else is more important than your own needs, sometimes you are not the most important person in the room, and sometimes people don't care about you or your opinion. Because some moments in life just require you to be there and be happy for others. Life isn't always just about you.
Why You Should Practice Selflessness
There are many good reasons for why you should practice selflessness in your daily life. The most obvious is what some people like to call karma, which is just another way of saying that like attracts like.
Selflessness is a good deed and good deeds are always returned in kind. When you sacrifice yourself others will notice. They will see your actions as loving, caring, and considerate and they will strive to return the favour. When you are having a bad day or struggling through a difficult moment in life these people will be there to help you because they know you would do the same for them. In fact they've already seen you do it and they will make sure you are never left to fight on your own.
But getting this good "return on your investment" is not the best thing about being selfless. The best possible outcome of selflessness is the one you feel inside yourself. There have been countless scientific studies and papers that focus on the internal effects of helping others. Every time this research concludes with the same result - we feel happier, more excited, and enjoy life more when we help others.
If that isn't enough to convince you then maybe this quote from Tony Robbins will be the icing on the cake:
Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life's deepest joy: true fulfillment.
It's time to start being selfless. Today!