Put Your Ego on a Diet

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People are funny, there are parts of the world where there’s not enough food and people are trying to find more to eat, and then in the rest of the world where food is abundant, people have a hard time eating less.  It points to the fundamental issue, which is that we no matter what the situation is, people are suffering.  A quick Google search reveals that the weight loss industry is worth $72 Billion.

It seems almost common sense that if eating too much is a problem, the solution is going within to find the cause, not forcing a different behavior from the same mind that brought the problem in the first place.  This is not just about food but really all of life’s suffering.  If you think obesity is a problem, obesity of the body is nothing compared to obesity of the ego.  It amazing how much we feed our egos every day, not even realizing that it leads to personal suffering.  The bigger the ego, the bigger the problems.

Just take an honest moment and concentrate on how many times in a day we seek validation.  Usually we seek validation from other people, and when we can’t get that, we give it to ourselves by various methods – basically whatever feels good for the moment.  Feeding the ego can come in a million different forms.  Some people create drama to feed their egos, others go shopping.  Some use control as a way, and others quote their net worth.  Some show off, others tout accomplishments to themselves.  We don’t really see this because it happens in plain sight, but just examine every thought and see that a huge proportion of them, if not all, are some form of ego-feed… some way to either protect our own sense of who we think we are, or bolster it.  And it can get very subtle – it takes enormous discernment to recognize how every thought can be feeding the ego that generated it.

The ego diet consists of humility, gratitude, and forgiveness.  In our competitive culture, these attributes are seen as weaknesses, but it takes that much more courage to remain steadfast especially in this kind of culture.  The benefits of an ego diet show up in our overall wellbeing.  Just see, are people who exhibit humility, gratitude, and forgiveness happier than the average population?  Ego feeds the self, whereas these higher attributes steer us back to the Self.

As Peter Cutler states in The Zen of Love, “The self and the Self are different in every way possible.  The self is personal.  The Self is impersonal.  The self is unique, special and separate from all the other selves and from life itself.  The Self is not unique, not special and not separate from all that exists.  The self changes and lasts no longer than the physical body does.  The Self never changes and is eternal.  And the last difference is probably the most important.  The Self is real.  The self is an illusion created entirely out of thoughts.”

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