The Problem of Selfishness

Posted by matt on August 3, 2017 in Matt |

I wonder how much of a good and redemptive life is simply noticing our surroundings and making the conscious decision to respond with something more than selfish voyeurism? How much good would we do, how much better could our neighborhoods, workplaces and cities become if we made the simple decision to engage each other with empathy and kindness instead of apathy and disregard? I think the culprit is selfishness.

In reality, the primary problems most of us face can all be categorized as problems of selfishness. While this isn’t a new or unique problem it seems especially exacerbated today. It has become commonplace to treat the people we interact with each day as a problem to solve, an obstacle to overcome, or worst of all, a commodity to consume. How easily do we objectify each other for personal gain or pleasure when we all want the same thing? All of us desire to be heard. All of us desire to be known and seen as valuable. All of us desire to be viewed as people of worth.

We were all made in the image of a personal, creative, active and knowable God. It should come as no surprise when we treat each other in this way, as creative people with something to offer who want to be known, deep needs are met.

When we stop thinking the world revolves around us, is all about is, it non-magically becomes a larger and much more enjoyable place to live. As G.K. Chesterton put it in his great work Orthodoxy.

How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it; if you could really look at other men with common curiosity and pleasure; if you could see them walking as they are in their sunny selfishness and their virile indifference! You would begin to be interested in them, because they are not interested in you. You would break out of this tiny and tawdry theatre in which your own little plot is always played, and you would find yourself under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers.

This isn’t to say life will be without frustration or annoyance, our world is full of people after all, but instead of being mastered and overcome by such things we are able to see them in their proper light, as people, circumstances, situations all given to us for our strengthening and God’s joy. We will truly be able to say, “This is the day that the LORD has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!”

So how do we make progress along these lines? A couple of suggestions…

Begin well: The most transformative discipline I have added to my life this year is beginning the day with some journaling. (I hope to I will write about this in detail soon). By beginning with reflection, mediation, prayer and goal setting, I am able to anticipate and respond to the challenges and people in front of me instead of having to surprisingly react.

Practice detachment: When I feel myself beginning to get frustrated or out of sorts with something, I recognize it for what it is and make the decision to step back out of the emotion and respond. FULL DISCLOSURE: Still working on this.

Count everything as joy: When we realize the things in front of us as given by God for our good and His joy, it helps us keep proper perspective. God’s desire for us in this life is that we look like His son Jesus and His primary way of growing us is through hardship, trial and in relationship with others. (Note, one usually goes with the other).

Regain wonder: You would be surprised at how much the simple act of allowing yourself to be amazed and impressed can change the way you feel. If you forgot what that is like, come spend the day with my kids and watch them encounter our world. So so amazing.

Lean in: When you ask someone how they are doing, really mean it. Take a second to lean in to their response. Be helpful and kind to others. Smile.

Recover childlike faith: Being a cynic is the easiest thing in the world. Trust that God isn’t out to get anything from you other than your heart.



Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2012-2024 Maestas Matters All rights reserved.
This site is using the Desk Mess Mirrored theme, v2.5, from BuyNowShop.com.