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Enlightened Self-Interest: When Your Values Overlap with Other People’s Values

enlightened self-interest


Enlightened self-interest is the idea that often times doing what is good for yourself is also doing what is good for others, and vice versa.

This means your interests and values overlap with the interests and values of other people. And ultimately, when you work to achieve your own values (and what really matters to you), you are also creating value for society as a whole.

In my article about false choices, one of the main ones I bring up is the false choice between “self-interest” and “altruism.”

The common belief is that to live a good and moral life you have two choices: 1) Be completely “selfless” and do nothing but serve others, or 2) Be completely “selfish” and just do what you want because other people have to take care of themselves.

However, the most important insight is to see how serving yourself and serving others is often the same thing. This is what enlightened self-interest is all about.

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Beginner’s Mind: Looking at Old Problems With New Eyes

beginner's mind


Beginner’s mind is defined as “an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as beginner in the subject would.”

This is a very healthy and beneficial attitude to have at times. Often when we become really knowledgeable about an area in life, we become blinded in our ability to look at the subject from a new and different perspective.

The perfect example of beginner’s mind is watching a child freely play and explore their environment. A child is often experiencing many things for the very first time – with that comes a sense of openness and wonder that defines beginner’s mind.

To take this beginner’s mind into our adult life, we often need to learn how to let go of our preconceived views of the world that we have been taught over all these years.

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Overcoming Obstacles: Why You Always Want to Give Up A Little – But You Don’t

obstacles


Anyone who has ever achieved anything has had to face many obstacles to get to where they are today. But what defines their success is never how many obstacles stand in their way, but how many they are willing to overcome.

Obstacles are a necessary part of growth. Because if you are never being challenged, then you are never testing your limits, or learning anything new. That means you’re not moving forward.

The successful person tends to view obstacles as a positive sign. They welcome obstacles into their lives. They actively search for new challenges and are eager to dive into them and come out a better person.

The average person tends to view obstacles as a negative sign. They expect the easy road, so when they finally do come across an obstacle, they quickly get frustrated, disappointed, and want to give up.

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The Mindbus Technique: A Visualization for Defusing Negative Thoughts

mindbus


The mindbus technique is an exercise often practiced in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

The basic idea is to imagine yourself as the driver of a “mindbus” and to imagine your thoughts as passengers riding this bus with you. This is a great way to become more mindful of your thinking, while at the same time distancing yourself from your thoughts.

In one study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, individuals who used this mindbus technique showed higher self-control and were better able to resist urges to eat chocolate.

The participants were instructed to imagine their thoughts about eating chocolate as different passengers on their mindbus. They even assigned them different voices and personalities, so that each was seen as a separate person.

Then they were instructed to try different methods to take control over their mindbus. For example, imagining the passengers leaving the bus, or letting them know you’re the driver and you’re in charge.

The mindbus technique is a way to create “cognitive defusion.” This makes your thoughts less powerful by not identifying with them, but rather seeing them as just temporary experiences passing you by.

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Progressive Relaxation Exercise

progressive relaxation


“Progressive relaxation” is a popular exercise used by physical therapists to help release any extra stress, anxiety, and tension that is pent up in your body, muscles, and joints.

In one recent study it was found that progressive relaxation can help reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue, as well as improve quality of life in individuals with schizophrenia. In another study it was found that progressive relaxation can reduce feelings of depression, confusion, and tension in young soccer players.

Often stress can have both mental and physical components. We may think the stress of a relationship, or job, or bad experience is only something that lives in our minds, but we also carry it around in our bodies as well.

This exercise focuses specifically on the physical components of stress and how it lays dormant in our bodies – by practicing this exercise it will help both your body and mind become more relaxed.

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