“To become different from what you are, you must have some awareness of what you are.” From Bruce Lee’s insightful philosophy of life
Okay. Let’s get vulnerable. I recently returned from a charity trip to Uganda in which I encountered a level of poverty I never even imagined. I visited very rural villages where thousands of people live on $1.00 to $2.00 (max) per day. No running water or electricity or sanitation. And yet these people are happy and very friendly. As a result, I will never be the same.
From Pure Heart to Pride
It was from a pure heart that I that was able to contribute a few bucks to help. But it didn’t take long for that pure heart to transform into a bit of pride and arrogance. I disturbingly found myself thinking what a cool guy I am for helping the poor. Disgusting, but true. I encountered that fine line between purity of heart and pride. I found that I am indeed a broken human being and I don’t like it.
In order to recover my pure heart I need a change of heart. However that change could never occur without a willingness to delve into the depths of self-awareness. As Bruce Lee believed I can never change myself until I know myself—a painful and often embarrassing act. What’s even worse is the process in never-ending.
We humans are a tragically broken species. It is from our brokenness that our demons show their ugly faces driving us to do and be the kind of person we don’t like to be. But… this is good when we take the time for self-reflection.
In the 12-Step Program we are encouraged to take a daily “inventory” of our moral shortcomings (as well as our successes). For me, journaling is the process I use to evaluate my deepest inner self. And then, if I am fortunate to be surrounded by kind and brave people, they will inform me of my shortcomings. It doesn’t mean everything they say is true, but it is worth pondering.
The art of knowing yourself does not insist on only looking at what needs to improve. It also includes those times you discover your kindness and gratitude and giving heart—times you want to repeat because of the way you impact your world.
Make a Conscious Choice for Self-Awareness
Part of the problem is that during the demanding years of your life (20-50), especially with children, there is little time to do the self-reflection that you may want to do. Unless you make a conscious choice to be a person of known for the quality of your character. If so, then you will make the time.
As the oft-quoted saying of Socrates goes, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” May I encourage you to make a life worth living?
Of the dozens of ways you can do self-reflection, here are a few suggestions:
- In the morning write three “character goals” like kindness, avoiding gossip, avoiding pride or judgmentalism. Then before hitting the bed review your day. 10 minutes a day that can change your life.
- Apologize quickly when you find yourself being a bit of a jerk.
- Every so often get yourself alone and attempt to evaluate “what kind of person have I been over the past week or month or quarter.” The impact of this decision will be life-altering.
And Change Your World
Photo courtesy Charlie Hedges in Uganda