Education Week: Lose yourself to find yourself

Education Week presenter J.B. Haws entertains his youth audience with the accordian. Haws taught youth how to forget themselves and focus on others.
Education Week presenter J.B. Haws entertains his youth audience with the accordion. Haws taught youth how to forget themselves and focus on others.

Sometimes people are locked in on one perspective: their own. But with a concentration on others, it is possible to see things in a new way.

As part of an Education Week presentation for youth, BYU church history professor J. B. Haws discussed the importance of selflessness. Haws said too often people get locked into their own perspective and that doesn’t allow them to see things from different angles. When people focus on themselves, it limits how they see the world and others around them.

Haws described the teenage years being ‘the selfish years’ and talked about two types of selfishness. Drawing a comparison to “The Lord of the Rings” books, the first type of selfishness he called the “inner Bilbo,” in reference to Bilbo’s desire for his old ring. This type of selfishness is more possessive in nature. The second type of selfishness involves being solely concerned with personal well-being instead of others’ well-being.

“We might think that God wanted simply obedience to a set of rules, whereas he really wants people of a particular sort,” said Haws, quoting C.S. Lewis.

But how do people overcome the feeling of pride? Haws said they start by forgetting themselves and concentrating on others.

True followers of Jesus Christ forget themselves, give of themselves and shut out pride from their lives. Haws strongly suggested that if people are to discover humility then they must start by thinking less about what they want or need.

Youth attendees participate in J.B. Haws' Education Week on why selflessness is important.
Youth attendees participate in J.B. Haws’ Education Week class on why selflessness is important.

Haws then went on to discuss four lessons he learned from his children that can assist others in becoming more selfless.

The first is to “bite your tongue,” Haws said. This is a great starting point for selflessness. People can use this lesson to catch themselves before they try to elevate themselves above others.

Second is active compassion, which is helping to meet the needs of others by being selfless and putting others first.

The third lesson involves cheering on others’ successes. Gratitude and praise can help lift others and make their lives better.

And the fourth lesson is deep empathy, or trying to think about what others are going through. If people can perfect this, they can “win the battle against selflessness.”

Selflessness is the key to happy life. But what Haws emphasized to the audience is to remember to not compare themselves to others, but to compare their current self to their old self in order to progress.

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