Do We Do Everything For Our Own Selves?

People do everything for their own self. When somebody said this to me long ago, I had dismissed the thought as useless banter, completely convinced that all we do is not just for ourselves. There are friends and family and bosses who receive our love, attachment and services.

I have seen my aunt working all day, doing all household chores with a smile, answering all my innocent questions why she didn’t get any time to rest and why she doesn’t get tired! She didn’t seem to work for her own self…one more convincing thought that reinforced that we don’t do everything for our own selves!!

Probably I wasn’t mature enough to understand or I didn’t want to. She worked all day because she didn’t have a choice. She had to make her place in the family she got married into. Those were the times when women who thought for themselves; got kicked out of the house they were married into.

This thought reverberated in my mind recently when I went to see a very sick friend who could barely recognize me or talk to me. As she lay there, struggling to talk to me in unrecognizable syllables, I felt so helpless. To be honest, I felt most uncomfortable and wanted to get out of her room as quickly as possible. I asked myself…‘what am I doing here?’

The answers that I tried to draw out of me were quite surprising and enlightening. ‘It was my moral duty.’ ‘I wanted to show I cared.’ ‘It was expected of me.’

All of them connected with me! Had I done this for my pride, my own ego and myself, in order to escape my own distress? Did I visit her for my own peace of mind?

Was it what experts call ‘psychological hedonism?’

Eager to seek more answers I went to the ultimate savior – ‘Google’ and discovered that Thomas Hobbes, the seventeenth century philosopher believed that ‘our self-interest reigns supreme in all our acts.’

I have spent many days pondering, watching, understanding and analyzing…small children grab and push to get their little goals accomplished, they refuse to share and have to be repeatedly told that sharing is a virtue. Siblings vie with each other to prove their worth, probably impelled by an innate competitive spirit.

Sportsmen do the same and even can hurt the players of another team to win.

We donate only those things, which we don’t need. Even those rich who donate liberally to exemplify their generosity make it a point to highlight their kind acts in one form or the other. All charity is done to satisfy our own ego, to gain recognition, fame and respect.

Are empathy, compassion and altruism mere words, which may compel us to put up a façade of humanity to alleviate the agony of others?

All we do for others can be summarized under three headings:

  • Moral duty, which we have to perform for our family and friends
  • Expectations of others to show that we are successful and working
  • Self-satisfaction

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” ― Aldous Huxley

All spiritual gurus and scriptures tell us that attachments are mere illusions. The sooner we detach ourselves from worldly possessions, the better it would be!

This paradox of accomplishing and then giving up with a smile and satisfaction has always confounded me.

Just look within and introspect! Ask this question to your inner self: ‘what have I done for others?’ I know many answers would crop up immediately but consider before blurting out…was it selfless? Did you do any good without expectations?

I agree with David Hume, “ There is some benevolence, however small, infused into our bosom; some spark of friendship for human kind; some particle of the dove, kneaded into our frame, along with the elements of the wolf and the dove.”

We have been trying to evolve into better beings. Good thoughts do influence us. Positivity does bring the best out of us but we need constant reminders so that those elements of ‘wolf,’ which are kneaded into our DNA, can be kept under wraps.

Many questions remain unanswered. Let’s discuss them in the comments section.

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

 

Emotional Constraints Of Circles…How To Break Free?

circles-of-life

Playing in circles have been the games of children, the most memorable one – ‘I wrote a letter to my father, on the way I dropped it…’ Circles never release us even when we grow out of those childhood games.

Emotions define us and make us human but they weaken us, as they possess the power to drag us down and go round and round in circles.

Life itself is an uncanny circle, William Shakespeare described it so well in his poem “The Seven Ages Of Man.” Can you escape it? Can you separate the emotional aspects of spheres that keep entangling you?

Natural gifts of the sun and the moon accentuate the role of circles in our lives. Whosoever thought that a marriage can be solemnized by going around in circles around the holy fire (fire-deity) must have got inspired from these truths of nature.

They overlooked the fact that moon doesn’t appear to be in its form all the time and the sun is too hot, symbolic of the heat generated by a marriage. They also ignored that when a sun is enclosed by clouds, it becomes powerless.

When you go round and round in circles, you don’t reach anywhere. It can be very agonizing and frustrating. Nothing seems to work according to your wishes and plans.

Whether it is a marriage or a stressful relationship, a job that you can’t afford to quit or family affairs that make you go round and round, offering no viable solution, life can become a struggle.

“Round and round in circles we go, clutching at successes we never grasp, endlessly tripping over the same old failures. Truly, life is the misery we endure between disappointments.” – Joe Abercrombie

All you need is change but it could seem impossible, scary and grim. My friend Lisa Thomson often speaks about it and how liberating change can be. But there are caveats attached to life-changing decisions and they are not easy. Emotional restrictions raise their heads most fiercely.

The struggle continues and sucks life out of you every single day.

When stepping out of the circles is not possible, liberation from asphyxiating circumstances can be done in our own way by the following steps, one at a time. Remember – ‘a single step can make the longest journey.’

Acceptance: If you don’t want to change, you need to accept the fact. It would bring some mental peace and calmness in the charged atmosphere. Certain things never change. Some people refuse to accept their role in creating unpleasantness. Learn to find your strength and confidence by leaving them with their perceptions. You can never change them.

Set your standards: Live according to your own desires and principles. Don’t sacrifice yourself and your own happiness for others, whosoever they may be. Never feel fettered to the ground situation. Think positive and follow the sunshine. Dark clouds have to disintegrate one day.circles-of-life

Live life in your own way: Don’t get intimidated or influenced by the emotions of others. Do what seems right and start taking your own decisions. Nurture self-love for healthy mental attitude. Compassion for our own self is equally important. Stop accepting excuses.

Lower your expectations: You may remain your former self and let your goodness permeate your surroundings. Be positive but don’t expect anything in return. Let that message pass around to all who try to annoy you with their petty acts.

Nurture hope. If you don’t have any hope from people around you, if they have disappointed you each time, have faith in yourself. You deserve better surroundings and better opportunities. Eventually you will find them. Karma steps in you reward you for your patience and benevolence.

Life may be circular but its circumference keeps getting wider for us to grow.

I am sure you can relate to these circles of life. Have you tried to step out? I would call that a very valiant attempt. Getting off the merry go round and boarding it again is indeed intrepid. Please share your thoughts about it.

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

Image credit