Selflessness is something most people recognize as a good attribute to have, yet in this day and age where society tends to encourage them to succeed on a totally individual level and one-up each other whenever they can, it sure can be difficult to see through the fog of selfishness.
Although there’s nothing really wrong with wanting money, power, beauty, strength, intelligence or any other typically desirable and extravagant quality, there is something wrong with it if you’re wanting it just to feed your ego. There are lots of people in this world who have these things, yet they really only have them (and keep them) because they’re so focused on working hard to serve others.
So how do we become less selfish and more selfless? Well, a good way to start is by focusing on some of the big tips below that absolutely anyone can do.
1. Work on becoming aware of just how much you think of yourself in certain situations.
Noticing how you look upon the world and judge everything based on your own beliefs and personal desires is the first step toward adopting a more selfless attitude. Take something as simple as looking at photos that a friend uploaded on Facebook of an event you attended. Who’s the first person you’d typically look for in those photos? That’s right — yourself!
Of course, something as simple as looking for yourself first in photos of a group may seem harmless, but it demonstrates just how automatically programmed our minds are to think of ourselves first.
2. Ask questions to better empathize with people.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share others’ feelings, and it’s the key to developing selfless compassion. Unfortunately, many of us are too quick to judge others without fully stepping in their shoes first, or we simply fall short of doing the necessary investigative work that’s needed to empathize with them better.
Instead of judging someone from your point of view or jumping to conclusions with limited information, seek to understand them better by digging deeper into their experiences. Open your mind, be curious, and ask about what you don’t quite understand.
3. Acknowledge and thank people for sharing their opinions when you don’t agree with them.
When you’re very identified with the self, it’s all too easy to feel hurt, offended, embarrassed, ashamed, or angered by someone who shares an opinion that’s not in line with yours. The ego might automatically view it as an attack, which often triggers people to get defensive or act cowardly.
But you can eliminate all of those negative reactions by expanding your awareness and acknowledging that a person’s opinion is based entirely on that person’s perspective of the world, including all the beliefs and experiences they’ve developed over their lifetime. This makes it easier to refuse to let one person’s opinion affect you so you can stay positive and thank them for sharing anyway.
4. Aim to perform one simple act of selfless giving a day.
Selflessness is all about giving and knowing how to receive back with gratitude. You don’t have to donate all of your time and money to charities and volunteer organizations, but it’s worth making a small goal to give back to other people and the environment in some intentionally generous way.
Something as simple as holding the door open for a stranger or planting a new tree outside definitely counts. Here are a few other simple ideas for how to give more.
5. Keep practicing self-love.
Quite paradoxically, the practice of self-love — when done right — is completely selfless in nature. This is because learning to love yourself unconditionally helps to down-regulate your ego and reveal your interconnectedness with everyone and everything in the Universe.
Being you is really the greatest gift you can give to the world. By giving more love to yourself, you fill yourself up so you can give more love to others.