When I was younger, I once visited an exhibition on the life and the works of Einstein. Besides the famous equation (E=mc2) the thing that I remember most vividly was the visual demonstration of gravity. The tour guide spread a spandex-like material over the four corners of a wooden box (the top had been taken off). She pointed at the spandex and said, "This, is the space time continuum." Next she held up a metal sphere and said, "This, is any old planetary mass" and as she dropped the sphere on the spandex she confidently asserted, "This is gravity - when an object of mass warps the fabric of space and time". She then gently rolled three silver-metal BBs across the spandex and as one of the tiny spheres passed the larger one its momentum carried it right to the edge of the dip in the spandex before it faltered and was pulled into the gravity of the Larger Sphere. I was fascinated.
I feel this to be true of the spiritual as well as the physical.
There is such a thing as Spiritual Gravity. As a person who has been at times driven by selfishness, fear, and anger, I find myself in my worst moments to be very much like the metal sphere. I work so hard to warp everything around me into an extension of myself. I begin viewing books as means of gaining more understanding and things not worthwhile in themselves but worthwhile only in making me seem more intelligent. The people around me become means of satisfying my needs and want and become important to me only in so far as they grant me a better picture of myself.
And my attitude towards the World affects those around me tremendously. Especially those I am in closest contact with, my classmates, my family, my friends, my mentors and teachers.
The opposite is true too. When I feel loved and liked and cared for and at peace with God and myself, my interaction with the World is fraught with joy, wonder, and compassion.
So I commend Self-Awareness to you:
“Self-awareness [as opposed to introspection] is attentiveness to my way of relation to people and things. In particular, it involves understanding how my outlook affects the way I see the world and how it affects the world itself. This self-aware life does not accept that there is a private world of introspection and a public world of action. It insists that my interaction with the world includes my attitudes as well as my actions.”
-Abbot Christopher Jamison “Finding Happiness”
Bottom Line: Insist on living a life that is self-aware and thus alive to ones interaction with the world. Why? Because I can only change if I am aware of the thing that needs changing – namely, me.