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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Monday Morning Check In: Living Outside Ourselves

We all have good and bad days, and we all know the importance of working to transform all our days into positive ones in order to keep our mental health and even our sanity some days. Would you like to live a life that was always rewarding and happy and satisfying? I expect that some of you are smiling at my boldness or perhaps my Pollyanna outlook, but I do believe this is possible, and I am certain that this way of living can be cultivated repeatedly so that it becomes a habit and a lifestyle pattern. Let me show you how. I call this the habit of Living Outside Ourselves.

Living outside ourselves is simply the habit of looking beyond our own needs, desires, and plans and focusing on the needs, desires, and plans of others. By focusing on what others need and helping others to reach their goals, we will have less time and inclination to look inward and possibly dwell (or wallow) on our own problems and disappointments. And, as you know, when we focus on problems or other negative circumstances, those tend to grow in size and "importance." But how can we have the audacity to assume that our problems are so much greater than those of someone else? Why not focus instead on building and then maintaining the habit of assisting others?

This is a simple thing to do. Here are some ideas to get you started on developing your own personal habit of Living Outside Yourself:

  • Spend the day asking questions rather than making statements:
    • How are you?
    • How are things going?
    • How can I help you today?
  • Think of someone who would love to hear from you or who needs to hear from you and call them.
  • Thank someone and tell them how much you appreciate them.
  • Look around you to see if there is someone who could use your help:
    • Opening a door
    • Picking up a dropped item
    • Carrying something
  • Write a letter or send a card to someone. An email can work too, but handwritten missives are very special in this day of digital communication.
  • Do something for someone else daily.
  • Give hugs generously.
  • Smile at everyone, especially those folks who cannot find their joy.

As for creating and reinforcing the daily habit of living outside ourselves, ask yourself the following three questions every day. Write them on your bathroom or dresser mirror with a dry erase marker (shower doors work well too).

  • Who can I help today?
  • Who can I contact today?
  • What can I do today to make life easier for someone else?

Write these questions on a card that you carry with you today and read and refer to often. Notice how positively your day unfolds when you keep your focus on living outside yourself.

Enjoy the day and let me know how your experience was.

"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT


  1. What about being the recipient of help? I hired a personal coach and found that as he was guiding me and making requests of actions for me to follow, wallowing disappeared! Smiles! Diane

  2. See how it works? It's all a giant circle, isn't it? As we help others, so we are open to receiving help ourselves.