Socrates said the un-examined life is not worth living—but neither is the over-examined one!
Hopefully we know that happiness is blocked by selfishness—but fewer realize it's not obtained trying to be self-less.
The key is self-forgetfulness, which has this paradox: you can't pursue it.
The Real Focus
A favorite activity of mine is viewing a film and forgetting I'm watching it. You become engaged at a deeper level, because you lose yourself in it.
This principle runs through life. For example, to fall asleep, forget about sleep; for a good first impression, forget the impression; to be "marriable", focus not on marriage but on the other; etc.
For example, I received the gift of tongues after a four month ramp-up of effort—and then didn't receive until I let it go. The dynamic Artist frequently creates tension/release, desire/detachment.
In fact, the word ecstasy literally means "standing outside oneself." For a man to be deeply happy, he must get over himself.
For proof, consider people you love to be around—they are not self-oriented. They're focused on you. Likewise in prayer, ignore distractions and receive God, as Christ repeatedly teaches (e.g, a seed must die for new life; Jn 12. The humble are exalted; Lk 18. To find yourself, lose yourself; Mt 10.)
Of course, this isn't saying we shouldn't love ourselves or look after our needs, but it's an awareness of our twisted tendency towards omphaloskepsis; i.e., naval-gazing!
[Hear Dr. Peter Kreeft YouTube audio on Happiness Via Self-Forgetfulness]
C.S. Lewis unpacks what we receive by self-donation—the true self!
Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self... But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away "blindly" to so speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality: but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all.
The Reward: God in You
Remove the focus from self. Why be so consumed with the image you portray when the Lord looks to the heart? One of the biggest distractions you have to Me is the focus you keep on yourself.
I have so much in the supernatural that awaits your call, but what hinders it? Comfort zones, not being noticed, half-hearted commitment, lack of diligence—what is it for you that holds on to that sense of self you find so necessary to preserve?
Remember: your life is not your own. This means I seek abandonment in exchange for abundance. Never get too comfortable with who you think you are for at any given time, that is only a passing image. You should be focused forward and on your way to ever greater kingdom living. I have new revelation for you daily. Take in whatever you can to get closer to Me and receive the gifts that build the body of Christ.
Die to yourself daily, take up your cross—then you are ready to follow Me (Mark 8:34-35). Don't miss Me. Get beyond yourself and you will be free to see Me and to see yourself in light of Me. The days are short and your eternity awaits. Do not be provincial in your spiritual world.
I have called My Body to an anointing of carrying out "greater works" to "turn the world upside down". And each of you, My sons and daughters, are a vital part of that call. Come and share your light—"give and it will be given back to you."
Live for the power of Christ to manifest in you and let this be your reward.