Young man in stairwell with a young girl upstairs

Change Your Life Instantly by Exchanging Self With Others

Mike Mather

Self-Centred to the Max

Since the beginning of time itself, throughout countless lifetimes, I have found myself trapped in an unending cycle of self-cherishing. I have been a slave to my own mind, placing unwavering trust in its every whim and command.

Generally, I was always convinced that the only way to solve my life's problems and find true happiness was to prioritise my own needs and desires over those of others.

With relentless determination, I laboured on, dedicating countless hours, days, and years to my own cause.

But what fruits have these efforts borne?

What tangible results can I present as evidence of my hard work?

A person holding a cat is helping a beggar in the street

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

A Bit About Me

Drinking my way into AA, I sought refuge in the bottle.

I relied on my faulty mind to get whatever I wanted and blamed others if I didn’t get it.

When I was a young real estate salesman, I had a modicum of success quite early on. Then, when the going got tough, I left my employer and opened an agency in my own name. I then tried to get my staff to do things ‘My Way’. Our office policy was. “That’s the way we do things around here”.

Eventually, money ran out, my wife ran out, and I took a bottle and ran out. Walking into a Psyche Ward of the local hospital in my three-piece suit, stinking of bourbon, it was another rung down on the way to the ‘bottom’.

Have I managed to resolve all my problems? Have I discovered the elusive secret to eternal happiness?

The answer is a resounding no.

A sculpture of a hand is holding up the branch of a large tree

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

Glaring Flash of Obvious

It is now glaringly obvious that dedicating my life to the pursuit of my own selfish interests has led me astray. I've been deceived by this misguided notion of self-cherishing.

Now is the time for a paradigm shift. It's time to switch the object of my cherishing from myself to all living beings. It's time to extend the same love, care, and respect I've always reserved for myself to others.

I do this with continuous meditation on cherishing others, using a gratitude journal to remind me of how lucky I am already, and taking steps to help others through service.

There is a meditation practice called ‘Taking and Giving’ or Tonglen, which is a tested method of training the mind to think of others more. If you would like instructions and some more tips on being mindful of others, there is a link below.

During my meditation break, I resist the temptation to fall back into the familiar pattern of self-cherishing through conscious effort to cherish others with genuine sincerity.

This is a life-long practice, and I am no way near perfect. In fact, one of the down-sides to this for me is that I beat myself up for not being selfless. I am working on self-flagellation in my spare time.

About the Author Mike Mather

Mike was born in 1963 which technically makes him one of the youngest of the Baby Boomers. An Australian with Indigenous and European heritage, he has been an avid and required student of Buddhism and alcoholism since 2008.

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