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Friday, March 03, 2006

The balance of being selfish

If you're like most people, you're taught by your parents and society to avoid being selfish, to give of what you have to others. The main reason is to be of assistance to others, to help them when they're down or in need.

But apart from giving because you're told to, or because you're expected to, why else would you give?

Because it makes you feel good.

Being of assistance to someone else makes you feel worthwhile, useful, and needed. It gives you a warm feeling deep down, which can inspire you to do even more for others. So even in the throes of giving, we're being selfish.

Interesting, isn't it. We're being of assistance to others simply because of our own selfishness.

Now, a lot of people would recoil in horror at this thought. "Hell no, I'm not selfish!" they'd cry. No one wants to be thought of as selfish, because of the negative connotations that come with it. The don't want to be labelled as selfish because that would make them feel bad, and make them look bad in the eyes of others.

The desire not to be labelled as selfish is still a selfish desire.

It's all about 'me-me-me'. You can't escape it.

So why not embrace it?

Stop beating yourself up about being selfish, and accept it as how things are. Understand that you do things because it somehow benefits you, and so there's no need to be ashamed of your 'selfish thoughts or actions'. It's GOOD that you're selfish, it's how things are.

If you did everything (or some things) simply to benefit others, then you wouldn't try to consider any benefit to yourself. You would be putting yourself out for others, with no reward. Your efforts at being selfless might also be detrimental to your health or your life.

If someone is drowning in a river because they can't swim, the selfless act would be to jump in and save them. But what about if you can't swim, and no one else is around? To be selfless would be to jump in and TRY to rescue them. And so you die too.

Selfish people survive, because they will only give to others if it is not going to end up with them being killed as a result. What's the point in helping someone if it's only going to result in your own death?

Of course, love changes the rules on selflessness, but that's an entirely different story which we don't need to cover here.

Positive selfishness is where you do something for someone else that benefits you, while negative selfishness is where you do something for yourself that takes something away from others.

Don't be negatively selfish, as that only leads to an imbalance which has to be addressed. The universe will always try to create balance, and if you fail to create balance for yourself and others, then the universe will do it for you.

If you spend your time taking from others in order to benefit yourself at their expense, then the universe is going to end up arranging events to take back from you in some fashion. This is the natural order of things. Some people call this 'karma'.

Balance is where you find benefit for yourself as you do things for others. A win-win situation has to be present in all things, so look for what you can get for yourself as you do things for others, even if it's simply to feel good about yourself.

Posted on 3/03/2006 08:57:00 AM Backlinks

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Blogger Moghal said...

Love doesn't actually change this 'selfish' urge at all: everyone is motivated, ultimately, by self-interest.

With someone that you care that deeply for, you'd jump into the river to try and save them (to use your analogy) not because love over-rides the selfishness, but because you know - subconsciously or otherwise - that death is an easier out than the guilt/grief combination of losing someone that close without trying to do something.


3/03/2006 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger Alan Howard said...

Yes, I believe you're right.

3/03/2006 10:17:00 PM  

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