Most people recognize the value of unselfish thinking, and most would even agree that it’s an ability they would like to develop. Many people, however, are at a loss concerning how to change their thinking. To begin cultivating the ability to think unselfishly, I recommend that you do the following:
- Put Others First
The process begins with realizing that everything is not about you! That requires humility and a shift in focus. In The Power of Ethical Management, Ken Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale wrote, “people with humility don’t think less of themselves; they just think of themselves less.” If you want to become less selfish in your thinking, then you need to stop thinking about your wants and begin focusing on others’ needs. Paul the Apostle exhorted, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Make a mental and emotional commitment to look out for the interests of others.
- Expose Yourself to Situations Where People Have Needs
It’s one thing to believe you are willing to give unselfishly. It’s another to actually do it. To make the transition, you need to put yourself in a position where you can see people’s needs and do something about it.
The kind of giving you do isn’t important at first. You can serve at your church, make donations to a food bank, volunteer professional services, or give to a charitable organization. The point is to learn how to give and to cultivate the habit of thinking like a giver.
- Give Quietly or Anonymously
Once you have learned to give of yourself, then the next step is to learn to give when you cannot receive anything in return. It’s almost always easier to give when you receive recognition for it than it is when no one is likely to know about it. The people who give in order to receive a lot of fanfare, however, have already received any reward they will get. There are spiritual, mental, and emotional benefits that come only to those who give anonymously. If you’ve never done it before, try it.
- Invest in People Intentionally
The highest level of unselfish thinking comes when you give of yourself to another person for that person’s personal development or well-being. If you’re married or a parent, you know this from personal experience. What does your spouse value most highly: money in the bank or your time freely given? What would small children really rather have from you: a toy or your undivided attention? The people who love you would rather have you than what you can give them.
If you want to become the kind of person who invests in people, then consider others and their journey so that you can collaborate with them. Each relationship is like a partnership created for mutual benefit. As you go into any relationship, think about how you can invest in the other person so that it becomes a win-win situation. Here is how relationships most often play out:
I win, you lose—I win only once.
You win, I lose—You win only once.
We both win—We win many times.
We both lose—Good-bye, partnership!
The best relationships are win-win. Why don’t more people go into relationships with that attitude? I’ll tell you why: most people want to make sure that they win first. Unselfish thinkers, on the other hand, go into a relationship and make sure that the other person wins first. And that makes all the difference.
- Continually Check Your Motives
Francois de la Rochefoucauld said, “What seems to be generosity is often no more than disguised ambition, which overlooks a small interest in order to secure a great one.” The hardest thing for most people is fighting their natural tendency to put themselves firsts. That’s why it’s important to continually examine your motives to make sure you’re not sliding backward into selfishness.
Do you want to check your motives? Then follow the modeling of Benjamin Franklin. Every day, he asked himself two questions. When he got up in the morning, he would ask, “what good am I going to do today?” And before he went to bed, he would ask, “What good have I done today?” If you can answer those questions with selflessness and integrity, you can keep yourself on track.
This Article is taken from How Successful People Think
Written by Arshad. A