I propose that the way to become your best self is, paradoxically, to become more selfless. I want to make the case that, in a world of cut-throat competition, the best strategy to survive and prosper for individuals and societies is to give our best in serving each other. In psychological terms, this way of life is called self- transcendence (ST). ST sounds paradoxical and counter-intuitive and may not make sense at first glance because in this individualistic consumer society, self-interest always seems front and centre in our consciousness. From parenting to education, we are ingrained with the idea of “looking out for number one.” Most self-help books and success seminars focus on how to develop skills and strategies to be winners. May I suggest that you entertain the following ideas, which represent an alternative way for personal growth: You need to lose yourself in order to find yourself; it is more blessed to give than to receive; do not ask what you can get from life, but ask what you can give to; and you must be willing to deny yourself in order to serve something greater than yourself. I hope that at the end of my presentation, you may discover that ST is not only an inevitable part of all of us, but also an essential condition for survival and flourishing as individuals and as a species.
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