Not Thinking about Oneself

Saying that hating yourself is the alternative to loving yourself is a false choice. …You can like yourself just fine without loving yourself to excess. We believe that it would be better for everyone not to concentrate on self-feelings–positive or negative–quite so much. Instead, focus on life: your relationships wiht others, your work, or the beauty of the natural world. Think about the deepest joy you experience in life–it doesn’t typically come from thinking about how great you are. Instead it comes from connecting with the world and getting away from yourself, as when you enjoy time with friends, family, and children, are engaged at work, or do all-absorbing tasks such as art, writing, crafts, athletics, or helping others.

The Narcissist Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, pg 29

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

–C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

I find that often, the days on which I am most happy are the days on which I’m not particularly questioning that happiness. The days on which I am least happy are the days on which I’m worried about not being happy. It may be that the best thing you can possibly do for your mental health, for your self-esteem, and for your proper perspective and virtuous humility–is not to focus too much on yourself, your feelings, your feelings about yourself. Focus your view outward, not inward.

It’s difficult for me to say this, because I am an introvert, I tend to be inwardly focused, and I have a very high intrapersonal intelligence–that is, I understand myself very well. I enjoy it when my counselor compliments me on my self-knowledge. But I do think I can take it to excess. And maybe I would be happier if I found more things to do and gave myself less time for rumination and a long spiral of increasingly unhappy thoughts. Hobbies: maybe, in the absence of full-time work, hobbies will be my key to happiness.

Hobbies like writing on this blog. 🙂


One thought on “Not Thinking about Oneself

  1. Pingback: The Sin of Despair? | Lyme, Literature, and Life

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