Have We Passed the Point of No Return: Will Selfishness Be Societies Ultimate Downfall?

I am by nature a selfish person; Evelina however, is not.  Of the many things I have learned about myself since having met her, this character trait is the toughest of which to accept.   She thinks of me first and herself second and until I met her I had never cared for someone enough to think of anyone but myself.

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Plus bad apples caused me to become a little cynical and jaded.  My world-view had become survival of the fittest, after all, no one will take care of me like me. Selfishness is a powerful characteristic to overcome and it is the one at the root of most of societal problems.

I see how humans treat each other and I wonder how our species has not been selected out by a massive virus or why a God would have mercy on us when we are slow with mercy and quick with the sword. Then the angel on my other shoulder reminds me of the good that humans are capable of doing and that all hope is not lost.  I struggle with these dual ideologies, each one fighting for supremacy in my mind.  On the one hand I truly want to believe in the goodness of humankind, but then our actions want to destroy that belief.

We live in a world full of bad people capable of horrific acts. And I think we all realize the world is going to pot, but want to believe in the better qualities of humanity. We must lock our doors at night, fear going to the ATM, carry concealed weapons, password protect our identities. Let’s face it…the world seems to have become a bad place. Corporations are pumping our foods full of pesticides and chemicals. Politicians are robbing the citizens blind. Criminals are more vicious than ever. Husbands and wives have little respect for “till death do us part.” Lying is acceptable. Finding an employee with a solid work ethic and trustable character is more difficult of a task than it should be.  Most citizens only have respect for the laws they think are important. Ethics, morality and character have all been rationalized beyond recognition.

What happened? When did we become so “me first” focused?

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image credit: elleseconomy.com

I believe what has happened is a natural, self-preservation reaction. Information comes at us at all times from all avenues. We are inundated with news about bombings, stabbings, robberies, murders, scam artists, identity thefts, home invasions, infidelity, rapists, child molesters, dishonesty, etc. And over time we become conditioned to focus on keeping ourselves and our families safe. The negative information overload has forced us to believe everyone is out to harm and deceive and destroy, therefore we must avoid other humans in order to remain safe and protected. We have been conditioned by the continuous onslaught of negative news to believe the world is more violent now than ever. The truth is actually the opposite according to crime statistics!

Since the 1990’s crime has actually decreased. But because we hear about most crimes committed in most cities, the perception is the opposite. And thus the natural instinct of self-preservation kicks in and human beings focus inward versus outward. We have become selfish as a way to perpetuate the species; to survive. It is innate in all animals to live/survive by any means. And as species adapt or go extinct, our species is adapting to a perception of danger. It matters not that crime is down it only matters to us that we perceive the world to be full of creeps and weirdos that must be kept away from us and our children!

But how do we overcome this? How do we learn to lend a hand? How do we learn to trust? I’m not sure of the answer. Maybe it starts with one single individual deciding to take action and help another? Maybe we must start setting a new example for our kids? Whatever the answer, I pray we find it soon. Society is like a large corporation. It takes large companies months or years to make change, as they have a large turning radius. I suspect it will take generations to change our society from selfish to more selfless. Maybe I am being an idealist in believing we can change. Or maybe I just can’t stomach the thought of a selfish world. Regardless, I know the only way to bring about a mindset of thinking of others is to start with self examination, we must inventory our own lives and then take action to help. I am not sure that it will happen, but I am hopeful.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”-Mahatma Gandhi

 

Why I Believe Helping Others Also Helps You

I have talked to a lot of people lately that have told me they are feeling a little down.  I understand that feeling “down” is not necessarily depression, but can be the beginnings of a road most would prefer to avoid.  These conversations got me thinking about the best way to beat the doldrums and pull oneself out of a funk.

 

Thoughtful young man in the living room

image credit: feeling-blue.co.uk

Often times when we feel down we spend too much time focusing on ourselves. Stop and reflect back on your last bout with the blues (not depression, that is an entirely different conversation) and think about how much of your thoughts focus on your feelings, your desires, your mood, your problems.

I have a challenge: the next time you are feeling down, do something charitable for someone in need.

If you do not like an outcome, then change the actions that produced said undesirable outcome.

Instead of moping around, lying on the couch and watching 47 straight hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, go volunteer your Saturday at the local soup kitchen. Go spend time at the nursing home volunteering.

As we get older we tend to fall into habits and patterns that are strongly engrained into our behavior. But as we all know behavior can be modified if we are aware and willing to work to change. So to those that have expressed feelings of the blues and unhappiness, try my suggestion.

I believe helping others is the gateway to fulfillment.  After all, charity is one of the few acts that all philosophies and religions agree to be a key to fulfillment.

Change your actions, change your life!

 

7 Organizations that Will Help You Learn to Give

photo 2Volunteering will change your perspective and possibly change your life!!  I have included the links to a few organizations here for you to click and read about the ease with which you can get involved.  Don’t live a life simply focusing on yourself, but learn to give back to your community.

The fulfillment you are looking for is found in giving of yourself.

http://www.habitat.org/local

http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Get-Involved/Volunteer

http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/

http://www.foodforthepoor.org/help-now/other-ways-to-help/

http://www.redcross.org/support/volunteer

http://www.uso.org/get-involved-faqs.aspx

http://www.stjudechild.org/how-can-you-help-us/

Seek To Add Value To Your World

I could not stay away!  I was going to wait till tomorrow to post, but I had a thought and had to share!

I speak with readers and writers throughout the week and it is so gratifying to talk and converse and meet so many different types of people.  Meeting people is my favorite aspect of what I do.  One of the most common questions or dilemmas that is put to me is “How do I live a fulfilled life?”  And as I was sitting in the kitchen eating lunch the answer came to me with sudden clarity.

Most people seek fulfillment or seek to live a fulfilled life.  And this fulfillment desire is one of selfishness.  The truth in fulfillment is exactly the opposite of what most people think.  I propose the idea that in order to be fulfilled one must learn to do for others and focus less on self.

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There exists a truth in every human being, a true self, if you will.  I am talking about the You that speaks during the honest, soul emptying moments with friends or therapists, not the You that plays the part in the movie called Your Life.  Not the you that is always “fine” or the you that envies, lusts, desires, yearns, hates, etc.  This You looks to the outside world and desires for material things.  This You wants things, success, acceptance, love.  This You focuses on itself and its needs, wants, desires.

My belief is that until you put this You in its place and begin living a life focused on adding value to the world around you, you will not experience any type of fulfillment.  You must convert your thinking to that of a servant.  You must begin to help others.  You must deny yourself and devote your life to helping, giving, loving others above yourself.

Until this happens you will continue to seek that which you cannot have.  Some use the word “happiness,” but I refuse to use this word.  Happiness refers to an emotion and is not a state of being.  Happiness comes and happiness goes.  I have written in the past about my views on happiness, Stop Trying to Be Happy.  Fulfillment is the objective as it is unaffected by our mood or emotional state.  I can be sad that someone dies, but still live a fulfilled life.  I can be angry that someone has stolen my car, yet still be fulfilled.

Fulfillment can only be found when you step out of focusing on yourself and step into a world of focusing on others.  Find a way to add value to your world.  Volunteer your time at a local nursing home.  Sign up to be a Big Brother or Big Sister.  Register to be a driver for Meals on Wheels.  Serve lunch at the homeless shelter.  Volunteer to sweep the floors at the Battered Women’s Shelter.

Take your life and devote it to helping.

When you find a way to add value to the world around you,  you will no longer need to find fulfillment, fulfillment will find you.

Law of attraction

Selfishness attracts negativity, giving attracts positivity.  I am not sure if you have ever heard of the concept of Law of Attraction, but in short it is the concept that positive thoughts attractive positivity to your life and negative thinking attracts negativity to your life.

When I speak about changing your mind in order to change your life, this is the concept to which I refer.  I did not realize the power of this concept until I changed my thinking and began to focus on being positive.  When I did this my entire view of the world changed and positive things began to happen in my life.

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I have a recommendation for all my readers: start today practicing charity.  Go and find an organization and volunteer your time for one night per week.  Give to the homeless man begging for change.  Take your extra clothing to a shelter.  The world needs more generosity as a life practice and very few actually practice being charitable with their time.  And thinking you are a good/nice person is not giving your time volunteering.

It is time to align your perception of yourself with actions consistent with said perception.  If you perceive yourself to be a good person, then go volunteer and give back to those that are less fortunate.

Giving attracts positivity, selfishness attracts negativity.

Big Dreamer

Practice Kindness

I want to ask you a question: when was the last time that you went out of your way to do something kind for someone that you did not know?

Has it been a day?  A month?  A year?  Never?  Is it important to you to help others?  If you say yes to the last question, do you practice helping others or give it lip service?

image credit: designmom.com

image credit: designmom.com

This world needs more givers and helpers and less self-absorption.

We wonder why our lives are not turning around or changing, meanwhile we only focus on ourselves and do not consider others.  And if we consider others, we do not act on our consideration and commit acts of kindness randomly.  If you want your life to change then start by doing something for someone other than yourself.  Start focusing on others and stop focusing on you.  If you do this, your life will change and you will change; both for the better.

Start today.

Big Dreamer

A Thought

I posted this today on my personal Facebook page and thought I would share:

 

I can’t help but think about several articles I have read lately contemplating how the United States will fall. If we understand anything from history, we know it will happen eventually, as all great nations, kingdoms, empires have fallen: Roman, English, French, Byzantine, etc.  I have one simple word that I believe encapsulates why the US will eventually fall: respect. We lack it. We lack respect for our own bodies, we lack respect for the original inhabitants of this great land we took, we lack respect for the land itself and we lack respect for others; especially the elderly, the poor and the sick.

As a whole, we no longer care about anything other than money, greed, acquiring possessions and making life better for ourselves. I know some will argue that there are good people doing good deeds, and I agree. Still doesn’t change the fact that we lack respect in a very general sense. We have become very self-focused.

People are taking other’s lives at an alarming rate. Some historians and economists speculated on the dark side of capitalism, that corporate greed filters down into society creating a system of consumers, focused mainly on getting, buying, acquiring stuff.

 

image credit: teachlovenothate.org

image credit: teachlovenothate.org

 

My Challenge:

Now to those that are reading and saying, “Yeah but there are people doing great things in this world to help others.” I ask you “Are you one of those?” Do you have enough respect for mankind to do something about it? To reach out to a homeless man and hand him a sandwich? To give your time at the women’s shelter? To throw a guy a dollar? To visit shut-ins or deliver food?  What are you doing? I have a friend that lives as an example of how to help. Organizing golf tourneys for needy families and collecting Christmas presents and driving 4 hours to deliver to a family in need. When was the last time you went out of your way to help someone?

For many of us, it has been years since we looked up from our mobile long enough to see the suffering in the world. It is time for you to change. Mankind is depending on you.

 

Big Dreamer

The Most Important Habit Change of Your Life

Life can be tough sometimes.  And human beings can be cruel, judgemental, harmful, manipulative and selfish.  Everyday we must endure being cut off in traffic by people that think their time and life is more important than any one elses.  Coworkers throw us under the bus to influence the boss that decides who gets the promotion.  Mates lie to each other to hide affairs that fill a selfish lust.  Let’s just say it…people can be incredibly selfish.  Maybe it is in our DNA to be selfish to survive; survival of the fittest, if you will.   After all if you don’t look out for yourself, then who will?  People pass over the homeless as if they don’t even exist.  Families leave loved ones abandoned in assisted living facilities because they just can’t find time in their busy schedules.  Have we become reluctant to helping others due to the fear of violence we read in the news and see on our televisions?  Do we assume someone else will volunteer to help?  Do we have an obligation to step out of our little world and do for others?  YES, YES AND YES!!  And I believe that a large part of success, personally and professionally, hinges on how willing you are to help others with zero return on investment.

What has happened to our world?  In 50 short years we have gone from never locking doors in Mayberry, to installing home alarm systems capable of protecting Area 51!  We are inundated with stories of crime that have changed our perception of the world around us.  Internet news, Facebook stories, Twitter feeds, television.  The information of crime comes in fast and furious and from all directions.  Friends tell us stories of friends robbed at gunpoint.  Facebook tells us that mall parking lot robberies are the latest crime “fad.”  The nightly news report talks about murders, wars and violence.  And what this information tidal wave has done is manipulate our mind into thinking murderers, thieves and serial killers wait on every street corner just looking for their chance to harm us.  In response, we shut out the world, only trusting those in the “circle of trust.”  We develop a distrust in strangers in order to preserve our own safety.  And sometimes there is need to be alarmed, but that does not mean we indiscriminately avoid helping anyone ever.

 

I routinely passed this guy at I85 and Sugar Creek Rd in Charlotte, NC that held a sign at the top of the interstate exit.  I cannot recall what the sign said, but it was the usual “homeless, need work, I’m hungry” sign.  I had seen the guy 100 times and usually hoped I didn’t end up stuck at the light with him standing right beside my car.  But on this occasion a little voice in my head said “you should give him the change in the cupholder.”   My first thought was why?  He’s probably going to go buy booze or what if he’s the guy begging up a $1000/week, driving a new car??  But then my little voice said, “that’s none of your concern, just give.”  So I did and I felt good for having done so.  I had developed a habit of immediately deciding not to help and had allowed my heart to become hardened to others in need.   And not just to that one homeless man, but to everyone.  All of the negative crime related news had placed fear in me, and I created the habit of not engaging strangers to avoid harm.  We learn habits that stand directly in conflict with everything that is being human.  I cannot recall one spiritual or religious principle that says “under no circumstance are you to ever help your fellow man/woman!”  Do not fall victim to the mentality that the world is so dangerous that it requires isolation for self preservation!!  It is time to take a close look at ourselves and ask if we are reaching out to help others or if we live a selfish, self-focused life.

I have talked at length about identifying unproductive habits and replacing them with habits that will aim you at success.  I believe this one habit change can singlehandedly change your life.  I am not asking anyone to put themselves in harms way by marching into dangerous neighborhoods or saying throw caution to the wind.  But, I am saying you need to develop the habit of thinking of others before yourself.  I challenge you, as well as myelf, to go sign up to be a Big Brother or Big Sister.  Volunteer for a month at a local assisted living facility.  Commit 4 hours per week to help clean the kitchen at the homeless shelter.  Do something that doesn’t revolve around you.  Do something to help put a smile on another human beings face!   I make few promises in life, but I promise your reward will be great when you help others.  It will build your self-esteem, expand your worldview, increase your compassion and make you more sympathetic.  But more importantly, you will help build someone else up!  You can be a part of helping someone rebound in life and what could be more important than that?