This article is about how to increase your awareness, learning how to hold your tongue, to not say the wrong thing and, not stick your foot in your mouth. All this is achieved by removing selfish desires.
You may not realize how much of your life is ruled by very subtle but powerful selfish thoughts which you do not even realize is being selfish. This level of selfishness is not what you would commonly recognize as being selfish, but is a very powerful negative factor in our lives.
Because we are always thinking of ourselves whether we are aware of it or not, we have a very limited ability to think about what we are doing until it is too late.
The level of selfishness we are discussing here today is not just being greedy or any of the obvious selfish acts a person does. Being selfish is simply thinking primarily about how everything effects you without full consideration of how it effects another person. Refusing a gift, for example, is a selfish act, even though you may think you are being humble or considerate. We will go into detail about this further down.
This is the devil that is behind our inability to change. Its power lies in tricking you into thinking you are being a good person when in fact you are being selfish. Let us now explore this concept.
By mastering selfishness, we can no longer uncontrollably say things. As well, we automatically gain the ability to think before we speak. When you want to say something you will quickly see how it will effect the other person, and what the repercussions will be, then you can make a choice of saying it or not.
This comes by mastering the natural human tendency of the egoistic quality that ultimately thinks only about what pleases you.
If you can become someone who sincerely considers other people, but not necessarily more importantly than yourself, you will not become a doormat. Many day to day events or simple comments are irrelevant to you but very relevant to another person.
For example, if someone gives you a chocolate bar that you do not want, you could think you are being polite and refuse it, which in your mind is irrelevant, but very relevant to them because they thought of you with a warm wish to make you happy. Refusing the gift is a selfish act that denied them the joy of giving you pleasure.
You could accept it to make them happy because they thought about you and wanted to give you a gift, then keep it aside and later on, give it to someone else. This would be considering the other person even though it gives you a little burden to have to carry the candy and find someone else to give it to. This is being selfless. A selfish person would refuse because they do not want that little burden while totally disregarding how they hurt the other persons feelings and have robbed them of the joy of giving. Instead of giving them that joy, you gave them a sharp stick in the stomach.
It is possible to be more selfless without actually detracting from the things you want or need. That perfect balance is actually not difficult to attain. It changes a lot of other characteristics within you which you presently attribute to having no self-control. The ability to think before you speak and decide on the right thing to say comes with the quality of considering how other people feel and mastering your selfish desires.
There is a difference between a quality of character and an attitude.
An attitude is something you think about doing, but a quality of your character means that is how you are, there is no thought or effort, you automatically respond that way.
If you try to just hold yourself back and think before you speak, as if the problem is simply a lack of self-control, you will find that does not work because that is not the problem. The problem is that you are selfish in a very subtle way which you justify and feel you are not selfish.
The inability to think before you speak stems from the selfish nature.
To be able to think about how every little thing will effect another person before we take action, the first step is in the concept: “Our greatest joy is the joy of giving.”
Borrowing from western religions explanation to show this point, this stems from the idea that God created the world and humanity so he would have someone to give to because the only joy God could not give himself is the joy of giving. It is just not the same when you give yourself a gift.
We are created with an ego that is designed to want for itself but at the same time we have an innate need to develop and evolve, to give and be useful. We are created to want so that we will always take God’s gifts, but we also tend to emulate our creator in the desire to give.
This is the essential desire to return to our source by being the same as the creator. In other words, some people say they want to go back to heaven or to where they came from, to get back to where we began.
There is no ‘place’ where we came from. Our original source is a state of being, a quality of character, a collection of thoughts. Returning to where we came from means altering our personality to be as the one who created us. I am not saying there is a god who created us or any of the religious views, never mind all that, this is just a useful analogy to work with.
As a scientist, I look at humanity objectively and see that there is an immense joy when we do or give something to someone else. It gives us a sense of meaning and satisfaction, a joy that is far deeper than receiving a gift, even if that is very pleasurable. To return back to where we came from means to emulate the qualities of what created us and we can take a guess that the quality of giving is a quality of our essential source, otherwise why would we have it.
Accept every little gift, any offering, every compliment or thing, even things you do not like or want, no matter how big or small. Always immediately accept every gift with great appreciation and gratitude, and especially joy, bearing in mind that the joy you get in receiving the gift is multiplied many times over in the joy the giver gets. Your joy in receiving is for their joy in giving.
The selflessness we are trying to develop, and selfishness we are trying to conquer, comes from accepting all things from anyone in a sincerely grateful manner. Start living this way and you will find that you become a very different person very quickly. You will also find you have developed the automatic ability to think before you speak.
Giving a gift is always a selfish act.
You either give because it gives you pleasure to give or in some way, by giving a gift, it removes some form of guilt. Regardless of why someone is giving you something, for you to accept it happily and purely, is to make them feel happy. It does not matter why they are giving you the gift. This is why the most important thing is to accept gifts openly because by receiving you are actually giving.
With this alteration in your character, because you are not always thinking of yourself, your mind can be present and aware of what is going on around you, and also in the mind of other people. Developing this true humility and selflessness makes you more present and aware in general. Interactions with other people, or on your own walking down the street or in nature, your mind becomes more present in proportion to the less it is preoccupied with yourself.