In this world of modern technology and social media, the promise is interconnectivity, so everyone is always on their phones- chatting, updating their profiles with posts, pictures, stories, and tweets, liking and commenting on other people’s life updates and random posts, and interacting with both friends and strangers online.

But, at what cost?

We are connected with the world but we become detached from the people around us. Every time we are glued to our screens, we isolate ourselves from our surroundings, and when we don’t engage with our immediate environment, we become self-centered.

Take this, for example. How many times do you say the word “I”? As in, “I want a new pair of sneakers.” “I think you should follow this advice.” “I know what I’m saying is right.” “I can be pretty outspoken.” “I’m self-confident.”

Try to be mindful and observe yourself- your thoughts and the things you say- and keep track of how many occasions you are focused on yourself and your needs. Ask yourself these questions:

Do I only consider my own needs and wants instead of also asking those around me?

When you go out to dinner with a group of friends or with your partner, do you just decide where to go, or do you ask them what they would like to eat? When you buy a gift for someone’s birthday, do you go with what you think is cute and perfectly your taste, or you pick something you believe they would like based on their personality and interests?

Do I look at everything only from my limited point of view?

When a friend comes to you for advice, do you tell them what to do based on your own experiences and opinions, or do you analyze the situation given all the factors and figure out what would work best for your friend? When you hear about a pressing issue in the news that doesn’t immediately affect you, do you just move on with your life, or do you seek to understand what you can’t relate to? 

Do I get irritated when things don’t go my way?

When the train is late, or it’s been 15 minutes and your food hasn’t been served yet, or when it suddenly rains on the day you planned to go swimming, do you easily get annoyed for your day being ruined? Whenever something has to be done, are you particular on how it must be done, and would rather do it yourself than someone do it just as well but different from how you would do it? 

Do I prioritize convenience over engaging with my surroundings?

When you find a purse left behind on the train seat, do you take it to the lost and found or leave it be because you will be late for work? When an elderly is having a hard time crossing the street and the light is about to turn green, do you go out of your car and help, or just sit, wait, and hope someone else will be the good samaritan?

We are our best selves when we are not self-centered. The world does not revolve around us. Even the sun is only the center of the solar system, not the whole universe. We have to take the time to observe and engage with our surroundings. We have to wholeheartedly practice mindfulness, consideration, and understanding.

Kindness and empathy are two very essential things we have to integrate in our daily lives. Take note, the keyword here is daily. You cannot pretend to be kind if you volunteer at an orphanage once a year and are rude to fellow pedestrians everyday. Small acts of good deeds don’t have to take up much of our time, like a simple holding the elevator doors open for someone, and ultimately, time spent on a good deed is time well spent.

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