The Truth about Thinking About Yourself

“The day you cease to travel, you will have arrived”—Japanese saying I heard somewhere the truth about thinking about yourself

The more you think about yourself, the less content you tend to be.

You intuitively know this to be true, don’t you?  It works in reverse as well: the more content you are, the less you tend to think about yourself.

Just look at young kids. They aren’t constantly thinking about themselves, who they are, how they stack up, where they’ve been or where they are going. They live life as it is. Life isn’t about them. There is no distinction between “my life” and anyone else’s life, there is just life.

And look at yourself, when you’re at your best. When you’re at your best, you aren’t focused on yourself, are you?

Deep peace and contentment is a “me” repellant.  

When you’re consumed in an activity, fully present with another person, or you’re experiencing one of those inner quiet moments—when you’re in life itself, rather than in your evaluation of life—you feel at home. There is no “me” at home, at least not in the personal, individual, separate “me” sort of way.

That entire conversation with yourself about how you’re doing is based on personal opinions and subjective judgments. It’s you in your own head, considering man-made or woman-made ideas and standards. It’s not about truth, reality, or life itself.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think about yourself. You’re going to and it’s not a problem.

It’s just that you don’t have to think about yourself and there is a whole lot of freedom in seeing that.  Tracking your progress through life is not required.

I talk to people every day who are working on something. They are trying to do better, be better, or change something about themselves.

That’s not inherently good or bad. It can be extremely rewarding to work toward change, and it can also be a self-created hell. What helps is seeing why it is not necessary.

Life moves through you all the time, pushing you forward, giving you new ideas, helping you evolve and grow.

You don’t need to manage that process by thinking yourself through it any more than trees or babies need to manage their own evolution and growth.

You don’t need to keep track of your progress in life in order to do well, and you don’t have to “do well” (by your own definition) in order to be happy.

Contentment is in seeing what’s always true, not in pondering what could be better.

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