Egocentric People are Troubled with a Deep Inner Unrest
Those who find themselves cloistered in too narrow a space often suffer from an affliction known as claustrophobia. It is the morbid dread of being shut in.
There is another kind of claustrophobia, which occasionally afflicts people—a claustrophobia not of space but of sympathies. It is just as pernicious. Some people live only for themselves, all their thoughts, all their emotions are centered on their own egos. The house they live in may be a mansion of immense size, yet these people will suffer from the shut-in feeling.
A person expands or contracts the world to the dimensions of his own spirit. He whose sympathies reach out to other people finds his world enlarged to the measure of those sympathies. Through our broadened interests, we can make ourselves part of all humankind, and rejoice in its past triumphs, struggle in its present dilemmas, and anticipate its future hopes. People who do this are blessed; they live in the vast open spaces of the spirit.
Egocentric people are invariably troubled with a deep inner unrest. They feel that their lives are empty, as indeed they are. For they do not take enough of life into the circle of their interests. No one ego is sufficient to fill life with the meaning and purpose which is required to keep it going.
Egocentric people usually think they are being kind to themselves. They refuse to bestow themselves on others so that they may have more with which to serve themselves. However, this is one of life’s great illusions. For too much concentration on the self-begets a shadow that obscures the rest of the world, and when we live with the image of that shadow constantly in our eyes, our spirit rises in revolt against its confinement.
When you estimate the odds of being harmed by the flu shot and compare them to the odds of needing it and being helped by it, there’s no question that just about everyone should get it. Being unable to find your mind when you look for it might be thought of as a moment of massive incertitude, yet this is precisely what frees you. How much greater felicitousness must we enjoy, upon whom the sun of science shines so bright as at this day?
The Need to Be Loved
Psychologists have called attention to a person’s need to be loved. This is a valid need. However, there is another truth, which is occasionally overlooked. A person must not only receive love, he must also give it A person who is concerned with himself alone will be truly miserable. Our interests must turn in both directions, out as well as in. Spoiled people are unhappy even though they are the recipients of love, because not enough of their love flows back into the world. A gift carries more blessing for the giver than for the recipient.
Our world is as big as our outlook. We crave to live in the larger world, not only of space but also of sympathies.
Open-mindedness, which is the fruit of mindfulness, forms the basis for the disciplines of insight. This open-mindedness produces the space in which our apprehension, our discriminating awareness, operates and can be active. The ten kinds of wholesome actions lead to the higher realms. The American social psychologist Jonathan Haidt wrote in The Happiness Hypothesis,
Our life is the creation of our minds, and we do much of that creating with metaphor. We see new things in terms of things we already understand: Life is a journey, an argument is a war, the mind is a rider on an elephant. With the wrong metaphor we are deluded; with no metaphor we are blind.
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