What I’m about to share isn’t something that is often discussed. It’s a concept not even considered by many. It’s not taught within education. It’s not possible to learn it through a diploma or a degree or an online course.
We learn it through life itself and it contributes immensely to our happiness.
And it’s simple. All we need to do is to “live outside of ourselves”.
I should first explain what we do when we “live inside”.
Living inside of ourselves our priority becomes our own needs.
We spend so much time thinking about what we need that we fail to see or notice the needs of others.
We focus on the faults of others and blame them when we are ‘affected’ by their words or actions.
We are oblivious to how our own words and actions may negatively affect others. Living ‘inside’ can contribute to negative feelings and is often an often undiscussed key element of depression.
I know. Because I’ve been there. It wasn’t a nice place to be. I was very unhappy and felt very stuck.
I blamed unexpected adversity for feeling stuck. Eventually, the pain of self-centeredness became unbearable and I chose to change.
One of the changes that I made was to understand that life wasn’t about me.
Gradually I stopped thinking about myself and began to focus on the needs of others.
I noticed myself listening more and having deeper conversations.
Sensing that I could make tiny differences in the lives of others, I started helping out.
Simple acts such as helping an elderly lady reach a can of beans from the top shelf in Tesco’s brought me moments of ‘heart-warmth*.
Giving people in need my full attention and time I started to feel better.
Only then did I begin to understand the power of ‘living outside of ourselves”.
Living outside of ourselves we are empathetic.
We show concern for others.
We practice compassion and kindness.
We understand the value of a hug or a few kind words.
We don’t restrict conversations to those “just like us” but seek conversations with those that may appear different to us.
When someone needs help, we are often the first on the scene.
And we know that people need to feel that they matter.
Reading this you may be feeling uneasy if you are ‘living inside” of yourself.
Don’t beat yourself up because we’ve all been there. And there are probably times that we all go back there. But you don’t have to stay there.
If you want to start “living outside” then follow my top tips to find your way to happiness:
Practice active listening.
Concentrate so that you understand what people are saying. Give them your full undivided attention. Only when you hear the needs of others can you help them in the best possible way.
Do something kind for someone else today.
Don’t wait until tomorrow. Even if you have a busy day create the time to do something kind. Buy a stranger a coffee. Visit someone who might be lonely. Send someone a card letting them know how much you appreciate them. Give someone your undivided attention and time.
Notice the people around you.
Take a moment today to look around you at others. Although all appear as individuals, understand that we are all deeply connected. We all have the same needs. We all need to be loved and feel valued. We all want to feel good. We all have the ability to make the world a better place. We are connected in this way.
I like to imagine that we are all connected by ‘invisible strings’ that connect our hearts. (As I sit here in a coffee shop typing this, I’m surrounded by many people and I’m imagining the ‘web’ of strings intertwined that connect us all. I’m hoping that the men in little white coats don’t come to take me away after that statement as I’ve still got half a Danish Pastry to finish).
Get involved with activities that benefit others.
Look for opportunities to help within the community. Get involved with fund-raisers or create one. Volunteer whenever you can.
If you run a business and have employees, then why not encourage this behaviour by creating a volunteering experience for you all?
How could your business help out in the community? What could your business do to help others? (Research shows that you will boost morale in the work-place and improve staff retention as an added bonus).
Write down “life is not about me.
It’s about what I can do for others”. Stick this phrase somewhere that you will see it on a regular basis. Put in on the inside of your wardrobe or on your fridge. Make it your screensaver on your phone or your laptop. Constantly seeing these words will remind you that beyond ourselves there is a much bigger world and endless opportunities to make a difference.
Talk to strangers.
Make an effort to start a conversation with one new person a day. To do this you will need to look at faces, not phones.
In a world where we feel ‘connected’ via technology, we are probably the most ‘disconnected’ that we have ever been. We would once talk to pass the time whilst waiting for a bus or a train. In the doctor’s waiting room we would once converse with strangers. No longer does this happen because most bury their faces in their phones. Be the person that shows that there is another way to be.
Don’t be afraid of standing alone without your phone. Show others that you are open to connection.
Following these tips will help you on your way to a more fulfilling and happier life.
You won’t truly understand the power of ‘living outside’ until you try it.
Many people that I have worked with have transformed as individuals as a result of this knowledge. Once they discover the benefits of ‘living outside’ they never go back. They go forwards shining their light and positively impact the lives of others.
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