You won’t get no bellyache eatin’ humble pie (“Eat the Rich”-Aerosmith)

In her book, “Fountainhead,” Author Ayn Rand speaks of a ‘self-sufficient ego.’  A self-sufficient ego requires no validation of its moral value except by oneself. The only authority it needs is itself. Does this remind you of anyone?

Albert Einstein said, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile”. When I think about that quote, Mother Teresa comes to mind. From 1948 until her death in 1997, Mother Teresa devoted her life to serving the “poorest of the poor” in India. In 1979, Mother Teresa won the Nobel Prize for Peace. When she learned that the Nobel award panelists wanted to give a banquet in her honor, she refused to attend. Mother Teresa realized that the cost of the banquet was enough money to feed 400 people for a year in India. She requested that the money allocated for the banquet be given to her so she could accomplish just that. Not only did the they comply with her request, they made a significant additional contribution to her ministry.

An obstacle to humility is the illusion of self-sufficiency. We believe that our success is the direct result of our efforts alone, and God takes his rightful place on the back-burner. If self-sufficiency manifests into comparison, the endless spiral of unhealthy ego unfolds. We live in a society of more, more, more. How can we expect to remain humble in our life pursuits when we are trying to keep up with the Kardashians?

But I say to you that the best feeling in the world comes from doing something for someone who can never repay you. There is something about giving of ourselves without expecting anything in return that brings immeasurable joy. I would suggest that this is hard-wired into our DNA. Remember, we were created in God’s image. Jesus said (paraphrased), “that which you do for the least among you, you do for me.”  My belief is that we are honoring God when we act unselfishly. By honoring Him, we are able to truly connect with Him at the deepest level.

So when we feel like we are falling into the trap of comparison, let’s take an inventory of what we already have and be grateful. Our Creator is well-known for always giving us what we need…which may not be what we want.

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Stressed? Be still…

How do we find peace in a world full of chaos and deadlines? Work, children, responsibilities at home, overthinking, iPhones and everyday distractions devour our time. And we can’t forget about relationships, can we? Or do we? The noise overloads our minds and leaves us feeling numb. People drink to excess and tranquilize themselves. Our pharmaceutical industry assures us that their “wonder drug” will cure whatever ails us and we buy it! People are stressed to capacity and some are at their breaking point. These hyper-stressed levels cause people to be short with others, only to regret it later. Others unnecessarily beat themselves up over mistakes long past and are full of regrets. Patience, once known as a virtue, is rarely found. Simple kindness has been replaced by rudeness, and sometimes cruelty. People are living unfulfilled lives and it feels like our planet is going to explode!

There are countless books and seminars that tell us how to create the life we want, restore order in our lives and reclaim our joy. Counter that pursuit with a culture that believes being busy is a sign of importance and nothing changes in our lives. But I believe there is a solution.

It begins with patience, and patience is a manifestation of a loving heart. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:4 that “Love is patient.” The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Beautiful writings, but how do you put it into your life?

Carve out some quiet-time where there are no distractions, free from mental clutter.  For me, some days that means I arise at 4:00 a.m. to get 15-20 minutes of peace. During that time I meditate on the things I am grateful for in my life, not allowing one negative thought to slip in. The challenges of the day are still there, and I will tackle them. But I find that I am more effective in my life by being quiet for a short period of time. This sounds counterintuitive to my personality. I have a tremendous energy level and my mind is always going warp speed. But I listened to a close friend who told me “if I want to accomplish all the things I say I do, then I needed to clear my mind of the clutter.” I resisted for a while, but I finally relented and my productivity went up!

I challege you and encourage you to try it. What do you have to lose? Stress and worry? I leave you with a quote from Thomas Carlysle: “We are always looking far ahead, unable to enjoy the moment we are in because of impatience.

 

 

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