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Surrendering self-cherishing

A little while ago I had the striking realization that all of my suffering—all of my hopes, cares, and tears—are private only to me.

I guess it made me feel like… why do I care so much about myself? If all of my desires to have a nice life are only going to affect me… why strive for it?

It made me want to change my endeavors from improving my life to improving the lives of others. The Dalai Lama speaks to this:

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”

But trying to change course to selflessness is difficult. It’s like jumping into a marathon fat with ego. So I’m starting with some exercises that are within my selfishness level:

The first exercise is to give up my vices. I figure, if I am going to help others, I should at least have myself in order. That whole “put your oxygen mask on first” bit.

The second exercise is to start to become conscious of self-cherishing. I’ve been trying to witness myself when I define myself as bad or good, when I become defensive or vain. I don’t try to change anything, just notice it without judgment.

The third exercise is to reorient my thoughts of others. When I think of someone, I try to redirect my thoughts to appreciating them and envisioning them happy.

It’s not a lot, and nothing that affects anyone but me. But it’s what I can do for now, and hopefully the beginning of a sea change.