Dr. Matthew Whoolery, a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University-Idaho, has an unorthodox recommendation: let go of your self-esteem.
"Notice I'm not saying lose your high self-esteem, or lose your low self-esteem," he said in a new TEDx talk. "I'm saying, lose your self-esteem altogether."
It's a thought-provoking message about gratitude and human connectedness. Whoolery's talk draws on thinkers ranging from famed psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl to Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy to the teachings of Buddhist monk Geshe Jampa Tegchok.
We've highlighted three noteworthy points below, but you should really watch the full talk:
Excerpts of Dr. Whoolery's speech below:
All of the good we have in our lives comes from others.
Now I know this disagrees with the way you and I usually see the world.
But let's just start with the clothes you're wearing today. How many of you made the clothes you're wearing today? And even if you made them, you probably didn't raise the sheep, card the wool, make the thread, all these, right? People have done stuff for us. So when I think about my shoes, I didn't make my shoes. In fact, I have no idea who made my shoes, but somebody did. People made your clothes and are willing to work for wages that you aren't willing to work for, and in many ways couldn't work for. It's their kindness that gives you clothes to wear.
We often speak in America about self-sufficiency but it's an illusion of sorts. You can say I'm self-sufficient, but in reality you have tons of people around the world as your support team, showing you kindness.
This is the way I explained our reasoning [to my daughter]. There's six of us in our family, we have four girls. If we each think about our self, we have one person concerned about our needs. When we think about each other, we have five. So if she just thinks about everybody else and doesn't worry about herself, everybody else is going to take care of her anyway.
Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist and a survivor of the concentration camps in World War II. He said, "You can't achieve your life's purpose by trying to achieve your life's purpose." It sounds paradoxical, but what he means by that is: you are not your life's purpose. Your purpose is something other than you. You don't find your life's meaning and purpose within your own psyche, but in the world, in doing the good that you can do, not the good that somebody else can.
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