I am discovering that my level of anxiety is directly correlated to the degree to which I focus on myself. The more I focus on myself, the greater the possibility that my anxiety will be high. The more I focus on others, the greater the possibility that my anxiety will be low.
A wise man recently told me that God brings us into contact with others for a reason. Our purpose should be to discover what is that reason. We are detectives or treasure hunters or research scientists, searching for the purpose held within every interaction. There is purpose, deep purpose, that all too often lies untouched when two people engage. When two people with real pain, worries, joy, and dreams engage each other and all that is left from that interaction is a forced smile and a "have a good day" comment (if that), I fear we miss the entire purpose of our lives.
When my end goal becomes to discover how I can specifically reach into someone's life and bless him in such a unique way that it reaches to the core of his specific hurt or joy in that moment, then my life stops being about me and begins to be full of purpose. We cannot find "fulfilling purpose" in a life that is all about ourselves. And, yet, the correct response to this truth is not simply "denial of self" but, much more importantly, a laser-like focus on others.
Imagine with me waking up each morning with only these thoughts on your mind: Who might I encounter today? What is the likelihood that I might have the opportunity to engage on a real level with the person behind the cash register as he swipes my groceries through the scanner? What is the possibility that today I might be able to help others move their agendas forward? Where and when today might I ask someone just enough of the right questions to be given the privilege to encourage her in such a way that she discovers an extra bounce in her step?
This is not about asking questions in order to lead people to talk about the things we want to talk about. This is about asking questions in order to find out what they want to talk about and what they need to hear and how we can bless them. If we woke every morning with our sole focus being to reach into the lives of the people we encounter with the purpose of blessing them where they are at in any way we can, then I believe we'd live life in all its fullness. We'd experience peace and joy in ways we haven't in a long time, maybe ever. And we really would worry a lot less.
It's a requirement to worry when thinking about oneself, isn't it? Not always, of course, but at some point and on enough days, when we think about ourselves the thinking has to eventually lead to anxiety. In contrast, when we begin our day with the mission set in our minds that we are going to discover how we can specifically bless each person we encounter, then there is nothing to worry about. Our minds are not set on what could cause us anxiety, but instead on what might be causing someone else anxiety. Our minds are not set on our own joy (finding it, keeping it, protecting it, getting it back), but on what others are rejoicing about...so that we can rejoice with them.
The question is not "How am I feeling today?" The question is "How is that person feeling today?" The questions that really matter are not the ones that help us better understand ourselves. The questions that matter are the ones that help us understand others.