A significant cause of depression and poor mental health is self-absorption. Selfishness not only hurts those around us but hurts the person. It inclines us towards failure because it keeps us in a negative mental rut.
Karl Menninger said, “Generous people are rarely mentally ill people.” When asked what he would advise a person to do if they felt an emotional breakdown coming on? Most would expect him to say, “Consult a psychiatrist” since that was his profession, but instead, to their surprise, Menninger said, “Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, find someone in need, and do something to help that person.”
Wow, what advice! Years ago, I heard the international missionary statesman T. L. Osborn tell the story of their son’s death. He was only in his early thirties, the pain and grief that gripped both T. L. and Daisy became almost unbearably, after several months, Dr. Daisy said to her husband T. L. “Let’s go to Africa.” “Why,” he responded, “To heal the hurts of others so God can heal ours.”
I have never forgotten that story, and as the old saying goes, “Find something outside of yourself, bigger than yourself, that makes you forget yourself so that you can give yourself.” You will never give yourself until you can forget yourself.
Jesus talked about it, and it is repeated six times in the four gospels. “If you hang onto your life, you will lose it, but if you give it away, you’ll find it.” It’s not a life of self that’s fulfilling; it’s a life of selflessness that discovers joy, excitement, and fulfillment!