“Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others”.
If you have ever been on a flight before, the above statement should not be strange to you. You might have heard this in-flight safety spiel so much that you can probably recite it on your own.
The message is clear: ensure you are safe before you think about the next passenger, irrespective of who the person is, it does not matter if they are a total stranger, a spouse, or your offspring. You need to be safe first before you can save another person.
Most of us epitomizes this concept of placing the oxygen mask on ourselves before we watch out for others in real life. While I agree that we ought to be in good condition before we can think about others, but taking this statement, literarily in every situation may lead to a slippery slope where we only care about ourselves. We may become self-centered, self-serving, self-absorbed, self-obsessed, and self-focused.
Is it at all possible to put the interests of others above ours? Is it reasonable to sometimes go beyond ourselves in order to serve others?
Here are some ways to go beyond yourself:
1. Give beyond yourself: The best example of people that gives beyond themselves are our men and women in uniform. These people are often called upon to go to dangerous places at the risk of their lives to ensure the safety and freedom of others. According to Martin Luther King Junior, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “what are we doing for others?’” Until you can do something for others without expecting anything in return, you are still not giving beyond yourself. However, you do not have to join the military to give, you can start today by giving your time or other resources to help other people around you.
2. Think beyond yourself: Thinking beyond you is about evaluating the consequences of your actions or inactions. What are the impacts of what you do to others? Are your actions making their lives better or leaving them worse? Politicians do come and go, but the effects of their policy decisions often transcend them. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” To think beyond yourself by helping to solve others’ problems.
3. See beyond yourself: In the in-flight safety instruction, you are required to see only yourself first before looking out for others. To see beyond yourself, you need to look outward. During the recent coronavirus induced panic buying, many people chose to look inward and see themselves alone. That was what led many to buy items that they will not need for many months to come so that they can take care of themselves alone. As more and more people continue the panic buying, scarcity set in, and stores started running out of cleaning materials and food items. Albert Einstein said, “A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.” If only more people will just pause and see others, the scarcity that we experienced wouldn’t have occurred.
Are you going to start seeing, thinking, and giving beyond yourself? If you really want to impact and touch other people’s lives, you need to go beyond you.