We spend so much of our lives thinking about ourselves. Seeing only from our perspective, how things affect us, what we want or don’t want, what makes us feel good or what brings us joy. But how often do we stop to shift our perspective to see and learn these answers from another’s point of view? Our family, significant others, teachers, friends, acquaintances? How often do we pause to see the world from beyond our own selves?
It can be tough to do as we are creatures of habit and lifelong habits take patience and practice to transform. But it’s a way of seeing, one that if we can learn even a little bit of, that can transform our lives for the better. While I’m still learning to implement many of the strategies below, I believe the lessons learned through their practice will bring greater joy and depth to our relationships.
Here are some ways we can practice selflessness today:
- Learn to Say Yes More Than You Say No. As long as you’re not putting yourself in a harmful or dangerous situation, of course! If you’re like me, you have a strong sense of your likes and dislikes, of the things that bring you joy and happiness, which can make it easy to turn down invitations knowing that they don’t do it for your soul, per say. But it benefits us and our relationships to take a moment to think beyond our-self and to ask, ‘What does this mean to the person inviting or asking us to do something? Will it bring them great joy? Can we help them in some way?’ Perhaps there’s not something to be gained from every situation, but I’m starting to learn that there’s always something to be given 😉
- Get Out of Your Own Head! Practice stepping outside of your own thoughts, emotions, and desires and think about those around you. Learn to see and hear them and to intuitively understand their needs and what brings them joy. Take a moment to think about what they may be going through and how you can add a little more sunshine to their corner of the world.
- Practice Giving Things You Want for Yourself to Others. Start small (e.g., the last bite of your favorite dessert or, for me, the last sip of my afternoon tea). I’m sure this comes more easily for all of our parent readers, but for the rest of us, we aren’t forced to put another person’s life and needs before our own on a daily basis, so it can be easy to forget to do or even think about. Find one way to give something you want to those you care about today and see how great it makes you feel!
- Give More! Don’t simply give, learn to give more. Go one step beyond what you would typically do for others and practice giving more. There are no limits to how much we can Love and share with others (as well as how much our hearts truly receive in return!). Try to put this to the test every single day.
- Love More. Practice sending Love to everyone and everything, including yourself! We can’t truly learn to be selfless until we learn to Love ourselves unconditionally. After all, we can only give to others what we have ourselves.
- Reflect Daily. It’s impossible to know how we’re behaving, thinking, or living without taking the time to self-reflect on our thoughts, habits, and actions. Take a few moments every evening to look back on your day. How did you treat others? How did you treat yourself? Where could you have Loved or given more? Think about these things and remember not to beat yourself up if you don’t like the answers that arise. Simply intend to be better and try again tomorrow. Tip: It helps me to visualize how I wish I had responded in a particular situation. The more I visualize how I want to be, the more I find it easier to act in a way that’s truly aligned with the person I aspire to be 🙂
- Learn to Let Go. Learn to let go of the need to be in control, the need to protect yourself from every situation or to ensure that it’s always enjoyable for you, and see where focusing on others takes you. I’ve found that the situations I have the most resistance to are the ones where I truly gain the most by showing up and allowing whatever arises to be. You might be surprised what the journey holds if you let go and simply go with the flow!