This is part six of a series based on Gretchen Rubin's Nine Paradoxes to Contemplate as You Consider Your Happiness Project. In case you have missed the others here they are:
- Accept myself, but expect more of myself.
- Take myself less seriously—and take myself more seriously
- Push myself to use my time efficiently, yet also make time to play, to wander, to read at whim, to fail.
- Strive to be emotionally self-sufficient so I can connect better with other people.
- Keep an empty shelf, and keep a junk drawer.
It is time to turn our attention to the next Paradox: Think about myself so I can forget myself.
This one seems the most paradoxical at first but as we look deeper we see that it is not only possible but almost necessary not just for happiness but for even our basic sanity. The work of personal growth and development is hard, it consumes both mental energy and time but what are we really doing when we desire to change. We are thinking about ourselves, we think about what we do right, what we do wrong and how we can do more of the first and less of the seconded. As we strive to grow and change we watch our actions consciously, constantly and carefully. This is an effort that we cannot maintain forever. If we did life becomes work, there is no time for fun, and happiness flees our lives. If that is true what is the point of trying to grow and develop as a person? If we are not doing it to make ourselves happier and more content then why bother?
We do the work so we can forget the work and in so doing we can forget our selves.
Forgetting ourselves comes first in forgetting to be vigilant about the work we have been doing. When instead of taking good and proper action from vigilant and reason we begin to take those actions from habit and instinct. When this happens we have forgotten ourselves a bit. As each area we work on changes from a project to part of our character we can move on to the next aspect of self we want to change, the next way of acting we want to achieve. As we forget the rules we have set ourselves to live by and just begin living them the stress to obey falls away. Even this will not lead us to happiness however unless we are the ones determining the rules, deterring who we want to be and what is important to us.