As a follow up to my post about acedia, it’s worth noting another concept Abbot Christopher Jamison talks about in the acedia chapter of Finding Happiness: Monastic Steps for a Fulfilling Life

Jamison makes a distinction between introspection and self awareness:

Introspection is only looking at me, whereas self-awareness involves considering how I interact with the world around me.

Also, our inner worlds aren’t as private as we think they are and can lead to harm.

Simply being angry, for example, is bad for me and bad for those who have to deal with me; the vibrations of my anger affect others even if I never do anything bad.


I can think of a time or two (ahem) that I’ve stifled feelings of sadness or anger, thinking I was sparing the people in my life from my negative thoughts and even marveling at how my outer mask concealed my inner turmoil. Probably not such an effective strategy after all.

We have to enable each person to live out the discipline of self-awareness not only for personal happiness but for society’s happiness.

So it boils down to training your thoughts and changing the story you tell yourself about yourself.

I don’t think this means we should never indulge in introspection.

I think it’s that moments of introspection are more like writing a poem, where your viewpoint is the main attraction.

Whereas self-awareness is more like writing a short story, where you are just one character, you have particular roles and you’re forced to think more how your actions affect others.


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