Saturday, August 22, 2009

How To Be Miserable

Bold emphasis is mine.

How To Be Miserable
by Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD.

The smallest package in the world is a person wrapped up in himself! "I gave a small party this afternoon. It was very small, just three guests - that's all. Me, myself, and I. Myself ate all the cookies while me drank all the soda. It was also I who ate the pie and passed the cake to me."

Narcissism is repulsive. The Russian born Vladimir Nabokov, well known author of rather notorious novels, was a collector of butterflies and moths. One evening he returned from his day's excursion announcing that during a hot pursuit of butterflies near Bear Gulch he had heard someone groaning distressingly down by the stream. When asked the obvious question "Did you stop?" he answered "No, I had to get the butterfly!" The next day the corpse of an aged surveyor was discovered in what has been renamed, in Nabokov's (dis)honor, "Dead Man's Gulch."

And arrogant. Upon losing a game at the 1925 Baden-Baden tournament, Aaron Nimzowitsch, the great chess theoretician, knocked the pieces off the board, jumped on the table and screamed, "How can I lose to this idiot?" Another chess player had the nerve to say, "When I am white, I win because I am white - white moves first and so has a distinct advantage - when I am black, I win because I am Bogoljubov.".

The truth is that all of us are infected by this sickness. As someone put it, "There are two kinds of egotists: Those who admit it, and the rest of us." The Irish dramatist Oscar Wilde was expressing a feeling we all have, when he uttered, "Come over here and sit next to me, I'm dying to tell you all about myself". It is always about me!

At a social gathering, a woman was rather frank stating, "My husband and I have managed to be happy together for 20 years. I guess this is because we're both in love with the same man."

When British actor Michael Wilding was once asked if actors had any traits which set them apart from others, his answer was revealing, "Without a doubt," he replied. "You can pick out actors by the glazed look that comes into their eyes when the conversation wanders away from themselves." This happens not only to actors!

Going through a sports magazine, once I read an observation that a football player once made on his coach, the legendary Vince Lombardi winner of the NFL championships many times! "When you entered Vince's office, you could not help noticing a huge mahogany desk with an impressive organization chart behind it on the wall. The chart had a small block at the top in which was printed: "Vince Lombardi, Head Coach and General Manager." A line came down from it to a very large block in which was printed: "Everybody Else!"

If you want to be miserable, this article claims, just "Think about yourself. Talk about yourself. Use 'I' as often as possible. Mirror yourself continually in the opinion of others. Listen greedily to what people say about you. Expect to be appreciated. Be suspicious. Be jealous and envious. Be sensitive to slights. Never forgive a criticism. Trust nobody but yourself. Insist on consideration and respect. Demand agreement with your own views on everything. Sulk if people are not grateful to you for favors shown them. Never forget a service you have rendered. Shirk your duties if you can. Do as little as possible for others."

English author, C. S. Lewis, pointed out once that when people become Christians, if they are not careful, their sinning often shifts from the overt, outward, visible sins of lying, cheating, stealing, cursing and swearing, to the more inward, hidden, non-apparent invisible ones ... and among them he lists "a critical spirit" ... a spirit of being judgmental, a censorious attitude. So prevalent is it in churchly circles, that it is sometimes labeled "Christian cruelty". All this comes from this me-attitude, this persistent self-absorption.

This is why Jesus Christ therapy is so healthy. "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." And again, "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?"

When Mother Teresa was passing through a crowd in Detroit a woman remarked, "Her secret is that she is free to be nothing. Therefore God can use her for anything." Gosh, what an insight!

(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.

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David Marciniak said...

I recall a song on "Sesame Street" from my youth - "The most important person in the whole wide world is you, and you hardly even know it". I hope it is retired. Unfortunately, the song may be gone, but the cultural trend to consider one's own needs and feelings before anyone and everyone else's continues. I think of St. Faustina putting a big "X" in her diary signifying the abandonment of her own will, and consider that I must practice making big and little "X's" in my life every day.

Anne said...

This is great Esther! Thank you so much for sharing it!

Alexandra said...

Thank you for this! I think I have been wallowing lately - this helps snaps me out if it. See, it's all about me. lol.

Adrienne said...

Wait! Wait! You mean it's not all about meeeeeee? Be still my beating heart...

Esther said...

David, thanks for explaining about the big X that St. Faustina put on some of the pages of the diary. I often wondered about that. As Catholics we struggle against our own wills and abandoning ourselves to the will of God. Society on the other is so ego-centric. It's all about "me".

And to the Triple A's: Glad you enjoyed it.