Search A Light In The Darkness

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Self-transcendence: The art of achieving seemingly impossible goals by focusing on a purpose greater than yourself

S.O.T.T: Stulberg and Magness refer to this paradigm shift as "ego minimization." They point to a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where researchers used fMRI scans to see what happens inside the brain of people presented with threatening messages.

Prior to their evaluation, each participant was asked to first reflect on their core values. What the scientists discovered is somewhat surprising: The part of the brain associated with "positive valuations" showed heightened neural activity when participants read the threatening messages. Though it sounds counterintuitive, instead of shutting down, their brains actually moved toward a challenge when faced with a threat.

A wide body of research suggests that minimizing our focus on the self increases our motivation in less heroic, mundane activities as well. An earlier study published in The Academy of Management Review found that hospital janitors who cleaned bedpans and mopped floors derived more meaning from their work when it was framed as helping patients heal. By keeping the hospital clean, they were preventing vulnerable patients from getting sicker.

When we recognize that our actions are inextricably tied to the greater good, even unpleasant chores like taking out the trash or washing dishes become acts of mindfulness. Zen monks have long internalized this lesson; they seek to achieve detachment through a spirit of selflessness. In their daily Zen practice, activities like cooking and cleaning become their own form of meditation. Thich Nhat Hanh explains that mindful living is an art: "You do not have to be a monk or living in a monastery to practice mindfulness. You can practice it anytime, while driving your car or doing housework." more>>>...