Be Selfish For Good Reasons
I know my choice of blog post title today might stir some controversy, but I am going to publish this blog post anyway. The post has been running through my mind for a couple of days now and I have just been considering if it will be misinterpreted or not, however it kept popping up repeatedly in my mind to write. And today I have finally agreed to pen it down here.
You know we often see the remark that someone is being selfish as a negative thing. Most of us do things so that we will not be tagged as selfish people but rather selfless people. It will be interesting to consider the question: could being selfish be a good thing in certain circumstances? That is what this blog post seeks to explore.
First, let us even define the meaning of the word selfish. If someone calls you selfish, what does it mean? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the adjective selfish means "caring only about yourself rather than other people." Merriam Webster Dictionary defines selfish as: seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.
Now could this be a good thing? Can caring only about oneself rather than others ever be a good thing? Can seeking for our own advantage without regard for others ever be good?
I will like to play the devil's advocate here by saying that I think there are times this could lead to something good. Let's start with a look at the world and the politics surrounding us. Most countries that are doing great globally are selfish to a certain degree about their own country's growth and progress. And they do this without necessarily regarding other countries. They make policies and laws that favour them and give them greater advantages.
As far as the leaders of these countries are concerned, the growth and progress of their nations come first before any other thing. It takes selfishness often tagged patriotism to care that much about your country.
And lets say someone is in a building that has caught fire, there is only one way out and this person has a clear way out before the 100 other people in the building start running towards that exit. Do you think this person with a clear path to the exit and on alert to the emergency would wait for the 100 other people to exit the building first? In the name of being selfless?
Let's even bring it down to business. Many businesses compete with each other for market share, turnovers and profit margins. These businesses do everything they can to keep their companies running without necessarily ensuring that similar businesses are doing same things they do. And why is that? It's selfishness at play.
Even in your own families, your brothers and sisters, parents and very close friends. If you only had $100 and your brother needed this money and there is a total stranger who needs this money too, who would you give the $100 to? Another way to put it is: if your mom and someone else's mom were hanging at the edge of a cliff about to fall off and you had the opportunity to save only one of them? Who would you save?
The answers should be pretty obvious. The selfishness that exists in us when it comes to politics, family, business and other areas of life will make us take options purely for our own gain without regard for others.
This is actually good in some cases as it helps us build up the things that really matter to us and creates an environment for healthy competition. If you are really selfish about your country, you will do everything possible to create pride for your country and in the minds of the citizens. That could mean you become excellent in whatever field of endeavor you choose and you do it for national pride.
If you are selfish about your family and close friends, you will do the best for them to ensure they are happy and taken care of.
If you are selfish about your business, you wil grow the business from strenght to strenght each year because you care about this business without a need to care about other businesses that are not yours.
So it can lead to good outcomes. But the downside is that sometimes this selfishness can metamorphose into something else. While being selfish can be good for us and spur us into taking actions that can lead to great results, if it is not evaluated or checked it can turn into a dangerous obsession. And when it turns into this, you get to the point where you are even willing to do illegal things or commit crimes just for your own sake. This is then when one turns to wrong things in the name of being selfish.
This is not what the article is about. One needs to be selfish when one needs to and for really good reasons. It takes selfishness to say "No" to certain requests from other people when you know you really need to rest or focus on other priorities.
It is important to know when to be selfish for the purpose of ultimate good. This is what I mean:
There are a lot of people who are unhappy in the world today. And I dare say that the reason why these people are often unhappy is because they have not been selfish enough for the right reasons. It takes a level of selfishness to pursue and go for what you want.
Now there are unhappy people who have not explored their desire to be selfish(for good reasons). These people make all sacrifices for other people, they do everything to please others, they basically live their lives saying "Yes" to people. And they do this with the hope that the people who they are sacrificing their entire lives for would somehow be there for them when they need help. :)
But we have seen over and over again that this is sometimes not the case. Sometimes people do everything for others in the name of being selfless and then the people they do these things for do not even appreciate it. And do not even reciprocate it. This leaves those who have sacrificed their entire for others feeling bitter and harboring resentment.
In their minds, after everything they did for other people, they go nothing back. But the big question is: why do they expect something back? The people they sacrificed everything for did not ask them to sacrifice anything for them. Did they? It was their conscious choice. So why expect those people to pay you back for the sacrifices you made for them in the name of being selfless?
Do you know why such people are so expectant? It is because they were not selfish when they needed to be. They allowed all ther actions to be controlled by this need to be selfless and liked by everyone. Hence, they did not give themselves a chance to be happy because they were expecting that those they sacrifice for would make them happy in the end. You see?
But let's explore the life of someone who chooses to be selfish for good reasons. They do what is best for them and explore their lives fully. This means they do not tie themselves to any unnecessary sacrifices and are open to saying "No" to certain things for their own peace of mind.
What then happens? They become genuinely happy because they are doing exactly the things they desire to do. If they really want to say "Yes", they say it. If they want to say "No", they say it. They don't really care whether you call them selfish or not because they know the happiness that comes with exercising their freedom of choice as individuals.
You know what happens? These people find true happiness in choosing to be selfish for good reasons. And then when they are truly happy, they become truly selfless. It's such an irony. People who seem to be selfish, then find happiness and become genuinely selfless.
Why? Because happiness is infectious, but it takes you to explore some parts of you to find it. And when you find it, you will only want to share it because you are overflowing with happiness. And because you are overflowing, you will not expect anything from anyone you share this happiness with. You will not expect them to reciprocate when you help them because you are already truly happy.
This is the point of the post. Don't sacrifice everything in the name of being selfless and counting on other people to reciprocate in future. You should count on finding true happiness and maintaining it. That true happiness will lead you to making genuine sacrifices and contributions in the lives of others without you counting on those people to reciprocate.
You will not be waiting to be happy when those people reciprocate. You will be happy regardless of whether they reciprocate or not because you found true happiness by being selfish for the right reasons on the onset.
I know it's controversial ideology, but think about it and share your thoughts.
Till next time,