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Why you need to be selfish this fall- and how to start

How well do you know yourself?

It’s not a rhetorical question, as much as it might sound like one. Think of how you would describe yourself to others. How much of your description would consist of titles, activities, locations… your job, your hobbies, your homes?

You are not what you do. So, who are you?

It’s easy to feel like you don’t have time to self-reflect, especially when there’s always something else demanding your attention: a buzzing phone, an overflowing inbox, “can’t-miss” appointments and meetings.

But you have to.

Too many of us put ourselves last. As a result, we lose touch with who we really are and what we really want. You can only be the best friend, best partner, best parent, best coworker, and best neighbor if you’re the best YOU first.

The world can do without you for an hour or two.

So sit it out for a little while. Put yourself first. You (and everyone else in your life) will thank yourself for it.

How to Start

1.Unplug.

When you’re responding to other people 24 hours a day, your brain goes on autopilot. It can be scary to realize, that first time that you put your phone on silent and your computer in the corner, how quickly you begin to itch for them.

“What if someone is calling me? Maybe I should just check for notifications…” Stop. You are more important than an instant response rate.

When you stop responding to others, you have to respond to yourself. Which brings us to tip #2…

2. Talk to yourself.

How much of what you say is in response to someone else? Probably almost everything.

It might feel a little (or a lot) crazy at first, but trust us- the benefits outweigh the weirdness.

When yours is the only voice in the room, you find out how fascinating your brain really is. In normal conversation, your train of thought gets cut short at almost every turn, because it has to be redirected back to the relevant topic. Nurture your mind’s free association abilities by carrying on a chat where you are the only participant. A dust bunny might lead to the Berlin airlift, which takes you back to your big toe. Who knows?

3. Read something that isn’t on a screen.

The ability to concentrate is one of the biggest casualties of modern life. Study upon study has found that the ability to multitask is a myth: in reality, we’ve just trained ourselves to rapidly switch from one thing to another. This constant attention-swapping undermines our ability to think deeply about what matters to us, as we almost always find ourselves automatically changing our focus after a minute or two.

To help yourself break this habit, pick up something that doesn’t have links in it, a “next” button, or an easy close tab. A book, a magazine, even the back of a cereal box will do. Just read something that you can put down when you’re done– not when an attention-grabbing button catches your eye.

4. Gift yourself the little things.

Dreams are made up of a million tiny preferences. Maybe you don’t know what your ideal life would look like, but you do know that you want to wear those super-thick socks that can’t fit in any of your shoes, eat a can of cranberry sauce with a spoon, or see if you can rap along to Taylor Swift in a Transylvanian accent. Want to know what you’d look like with blue lipstick on? Feel like painting a picture with your feet? Do it. Little things build the big things, and treating yourself to the most fleeting, silliest desires you have sets a standard that can let the bigger dreams free.

A philosopher once said: “the truth is found in the absurd”. So be absurd- and find your truth.

The world will still be there after you do.