Reflecting on my own life, where I am, what my goals are and asking the tough questions in life is something I love doing. In doing so I realized that I have 3 levels (or states) or awareness when doing some inner reflection or meditation.

It is best to demonstrate with an example…

If I were to ask you the moment you arrive at work “What is bothering you or makes you unhappy at this very moment“? Then chances are you would answer “The traffic on my way to work was absolutely crazy, it frustrates the hell out of me!” or “I have not had anything to eat or drink yet, I am hungry.” This would be my first state, the superficial state, or “skin-deep” state. It is matters that’s still very real but only affect us on a very superficial level for a short time (ok granted, driving in traffic every day can have a worse more permanent effect on us, but you get what I am trying to say).
Things like traffic, arguments with people, getting sick, experiencing physical pain, etc.
But if you were to calm down and spend more time thinking about the question you may come to a different answer. What is bothering you or makes you unhappy at this very moment? You may answer “the fact that I am not going to gym often enough, I don’t eat healthy, I don’t spend enough time with my family or I’m not following my passions”. This is the personal state or selfish state. It has more to do with you personally and what you want to achieve yourself. It may be goals you set for yourself but aren’t achieving, activities or habits you wanted to do, create or even stop.
Then upon even further meditation on this question you may come to yet again a different answer. “What is bothering you or makes you unhappy at this very moment“? The fact that there exists inequality and poverty, the fact that greed and lust is destroying the lives of so many innocent people. Things like our Complex security guard’s struggle to get his family into the country or friends that recently had to deal with extreme tragedy or loss.
In the third state, or the connected state it becomes less superficial, less about “me” and my personal life and more about the space you occupy in this world, and the people that share it with you. Issues on a deeper more”global” yet still personal level start to reveal themselves.

Its not about you.

This is my take on it. I wonder if there is a 4th state?