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Secrets to a (fairly) fulfilled life

Selflessness is overrated

Spending your life helping others is a life well spent. While this is generally true, it gets tangled up with issues of guilt and self-esteem.

If you think you should be helping more, you are probably better of doing something you're passionate about. That way, you kindle a fire that others can benefit from.

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Secrets to a (fairly) fulfilled life

Secrets to a (fairly) fulfilled life

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/sep/04/oliver-burkemans-last-column-the-eight-secrets-to-a-fairly-fulfilled-life

theguardian.com

8

Key Ideas

There will always be too much to do

The demands on our time continue to increase, but our capacities remain mostly fixed. In an attempt to get on top of everything, we'll generate more tasks.

The upside is that you don't have to feel guilty for failing to do it all, since doing it all is impossible. A good solution is to consciously choose what to neglect, in favour of what matters most.

Choose growth over happiness

Major personal decisions should be made not by asking if it will make you happy, but if this choice will enlarge or diminish you.

We are not good at predicting what will make us happy - it makes us concentrate on our narrow preferences for security and control. Focusing on enlargement questions draws out a more in-depth, intuitive response. You tend to know whether choosing to do something may bring short-term comfort that would prevent growth.

Being able to tolerate minor discomfort

You may already know it won't kill you to endure the mild discomfort of starting a difficult conversation with a colleague or asking someone out. You know that it's possible to let that feeling rise and fade while doing the action anyway.

The rewards come so swiftly that this becomes a more appealing way to live.

The advice you avoid is the advice you need

It's not comfortable to confront emotional experiences you're trying to avoid.

However, doing so is what you need. Gratitude journals, mindfulness meditation, seeing a therapist might be worth pursuing.

The future will never be certain

Much of our troubles arise from trying to control what is not in our control - such as the future. We want to know that things will work out later on. But we never can.

It's liberating to understand that no amount of worry will ever change this truth. A plan is only a statement of intent, not a guarantee that the future will obey your plan. This means not living each day, bracing yourself to see if things will work out as you desired.

The solution to imposter syndrome

It is useful to remember that everyone is just winging it all the time. The lesson to be drawn is not that this will throw us in utter chaos, but that you, unconfident, self-conscious, potentially have as much to contribute to your field as anyone else.

You can improvise as you go, just like everyone else.

Selflessness is overrated

Spending your life helping others is a life well spent. While this is generally true, it gets tangled up with issues of guilt and self-esteem.

If you think you should be helping more, you are probably better of doing something you're passionate about. That way, you kindle a fire that others can benefit from.

Know when to give up and move on

We should know when to stop doing something that's reached its natural endpoint, even if it means a great deal to us.

We need to understand that the most creative choice would be to see what's next.

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Saying NO without guilt
  • Notice how often people around you say no to each other every day. Also watch how others handle these situations.
  • When you feel pressured for a yes, ask for time. It will allow you to calm down and evaluate whether you really want to do it ( "I need to check my calendar; I'll get back to you"/ "I've got to think about that; I'll let you know.")
  • Saying no comfortably requires you to think what your values are. When you live by clear principles, it's easier to make decisions. People are more likely to respect your responses.
  • Keep telling them that you can't help them. Then stay on repeat, even if they bring new angles of reasoning.
  • When you want to help but can't commit to the specifics, make a counteroffer. You can offer someone a different resource or the name of someone else who might help.
Getting into running
Getting into running

You don't necessarily have to be the running type. Almost anyone can be a runner.

And with running, you don't need a membership, expensive equipment, or a qualified coach. You do ne...

When you first start, run slowly

Run slow enough that you're pretty sure you could overtake yourself at a brisk walk.

The point of running is endurance, and to manage that, you have to keep your heart rate elevated for the entire period of every training run. That means erring on the side of caution and only speeding up when you hardly break a sweat 20 minutes in.

Get with the running program

Slowly build up stamina over the first few weeks and months. To start, run three times a week for eight weeks, beginning with sessions that involve more walking than actual running, and ending with 30 minutes of non-stop jogging.

  • Your first session, run for a minute, then walk for 90 seconds and repeat the pattern eight times.
  • Four weeks later, running has increased to three sets of five minutes, with three minutes of walking in between.
  • At the end of week five, the training wheels come off, and you run for a full 20 minutes non-stop.

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Manipulation by passive and covert aggression
Manipulation by passive and covert aggression
  • Passive-aggression is an indirect way to go on the offensive. An example is when someone tries to "get you back" by resisting cooperation and giving you the "...
What a covert aggressive looks like
  • They pretend to be innocent, ignorant, or confused when they did something awful. This tactic is to make you question your judgment.
  • They don't give a straight answer to a straight question, but evade the question or change the subject when cornered.
  • They lie by omission or distortion by deliberately being vague.
  • They may either respond with charm and flattery, of will suddenly be angry.
  • They'll play the victim and make themselves out to be the one in distress.
  • They rationalize by giving a plausible excuse for engaging in inappropriate behavior, or they will downplay their behavior.
  • Covert aggressives don't feel bad, but they know you do. They will send you on a guilt trip so you will lighten your accusations.
How to deal with a covert-aggressive person
  • Let go of the pretense that if you play nice, they will play nice.
  • Know your vulnerabilities and focus on the one thing that really needs to change: yourself. You can only control what you do.
  • Set some boundaries for yourself. Be prepared for the consequences and set a support system.
  • Memorize the list of tactics used by an aggressive person. Then it is easier to recognize the attack.
  • If you're willing to accept an excuse, know that they will fling excuses at you until one stick.
  • Stay calm and polite, and avoid sarcasm, hostility, or threats.
  • Without being rude, be specific about what you expect or want from the other person. Aggressives will only participate if they can get something out of it. If they have to lose, they'll make sure you go down too. Ensure you propose win-win solutions
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Behavioral Activation Therapy - BAT

The idea behind BAT is that we have to do happy to feel happy. Instead of our mood changing what we do, we need to change what we do to fix our mood. The first principle of BAT is to change what you do. Engage in the right activities and positive feelings will follow.

We can't wait until we feel better before we act. Emotions perpetuate themselves. We have to move now and break the cycle of our feelings. This is how we grab hold of happiness.

The Balance Between Leisure And Mistery
  • Pleasure is vital, but we want the kind that will last and not leave you even more stressed than before you started. We're looking for a deeper satisfaction that comes from truly meaningful activities like relationships, exercise, and reading.
  • Mastery can be thought of as a feeling of accomplishment. Progress in goals that are meaningful to you, whether it pays the bills or not.

Create a balance between leisure activities and mastery.

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A Life Full Of Struggles
A Life Full Of Struggles

For many people, life is full of struggles. However, many struggles can be lessened through reasonably clear steps: set goals, build better habits, learn more, do the work.

Struggles Create A Motivating Tension

Facing life's struggles often create pain and lack, but it also adds a motivating tension in your life that gives structure and direction for the things you do.

Once the major struggles in your life are gone, the motivating tension diminishes too. The result is that you desire to regain that energizing force. One strategy people use to regain this tension is self-destruction. They break the thing they worked hard to build.

Mentally Tearing Down Your Past Achievements

Sometimes, what was previously good enough is now not acceptable anymore. It could be a person who gets in shape but now wants 6% body fat.

The problem isn't the mindset of continual growth, but motivating that growth by creating new, imagined needs. One can pursue excellence without mentally downgrading your past accomplishments.

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Three different sides of risk
  • The odds you will get hit.
  • The average consequences of getting hit.
  • The tail-end consequences of getting hit.

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The tail-end consequences

The tail-end consequences of an action or event (those with low-probability, high-impact) are all that matter.

In investing, the average consequences of risk make up most of the daily news headlines. But the tail-end consequences of risk (for example, pandemics and depressions) are what make the pages of history books.

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Changing your context

Your context influences your decisions. If you make an effort to control your environment, you won't have to exert self-control.

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The 20-second rule

Make the things you want to do take 20 seconds less time to start and let the things you want to keep away from take 20 seconds longer to get going.

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