Oftentimes, we think the key to happiness is to achieve everything we want to achieve. Our goals, our plans, our ambitions. And certainly achieving what we set out to achieve is a part of the happiness equation. However, there is another more subtle relationship of being, the relationship between happiness and self-forgetfulness, that few people ever pause to think about.
The Psychology Of Happiness
What were some of the happiest moments of your life? Maybe it was a moment spent with a significant other or family members. A moment spent on a beach or in nature. A moment spent playing or watching a sporting competition. What about some of the happiest moments of your life today? I bet many of these moments have at least one thing in common: your attention was consumed by something other than yourself.
We get depressed thinking about our past mistakes, anxious thinking about our future, and unhappy dwelling on our physical and mental flaws and imperfections. To be chronically fixated on self is a sign of mental or physical illness.
The antidote to the misery of self-consciousness is self-forgetfulness. To a person of faith, the essence of self-forgetfulness is God-consciousness. God is the greatest being of all time. Upon his reflection and worship, we become less bothered by ourselves and the baggage that comes with living.
We also become more self-forgetful when we get deeply involved in the lives of people we care about. Our problems often lose their power when we see other people struggling in similar ways.
In high school, the slogan for my senior class was, “You’re at your best when you’re serving.” We serve and love others when we lend them our attention, to see first and foremost what it is that they need. The more we do this, the less chronically focused we become on ourselves.
The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness.John Piper
A wise man once said, “It’s not that humble people think less of themselves, it’s that they think of themselves less.” The same is true of happy people.
Today, let’s aspire to be more self-forgetful, not out of negligence or air-headedness, but as a reflection of a healthy soul.
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