As a writer, one of the quixotic quests in my life is bringing back neglected and forgotten words (like quixotic), and providing rehabilitation for other words that may have been unfairly misrepresented or tarnished. Selfishness is just such a word.
Too many people are ignorant of the role selfishness plays in all aspects of prosperity. Selfishness is a necessary element for healthy relationships, mental harmony, financial success, physical wellness, and perhaps most ironically – your ability to serve, support, and provide comfort to others.
Selfishness is a moral prerogative of prosperous people.
Most people believe (abstractly anyway) that you should put the interests of the many before the one – that you should sacrifice yourself for the greater good. Certainly that sounds noble and good. But let’s dig deeper…
Taken too far, this idea is dangerous to your self-esteem, prosperity, even your life. Many people think it’s benevolent, spiritual, or righteous to make serving others your purpose in life. I tried that for years, back when my self-esteem was in the basement, only to discover that it’s the quickest route to neurosis. Because going through your whole life trying to keep others happy leads to depravity, moral corruption, and mental illness.
Relinquishing your happiness for the sake of others, known or unknown, verifies to yourself and others, that you’re unimportant and unworthy. Likewise, for the opposite situation. You shouldn’t ask others to sacrifice for you, for corrupting the morals of others is no less evil than corrupting your own.
The groupthink about selfishness today seems to be that it is an egoistic concern for your own interests, without regard for others. This belief ignores or is ignorant of the most important part of having regard for others: the actual ability to provide help when they need it. A deeper analysis reveals that this doesn’t mean that you are doing harm to others, wish them harm, or are impervious to their struggles. Nor does it mean that you don’t care about others, have concerns for them, or aren't willing to make sacrifices for them.
Parents gladly endure sacrifices for their children all the time. (Even pet owners exhibit the same dynamic.) You probably put the needs of your spouse or other loved one over your own needs from time to time. (Or at least I hope you do.) But these cases are also great demonstrations of the selfish joy you can receive by caring for others. And that’s a beautiful thing.
However, if you continually subjugate your own needs for others, or believe your primary purpose in life is only to serve them, there is probably a co-dependents anonymous chapter created in your honor. It’s important to know that…
Generosity is born from selfishness.
Because you can’t be generous of anything you don’t possess. Your survival and pursuit of happiness must form the foundation of your value system. Your moral prerogative is to make sure your own needs are met, because only then can you really help anyone else.
Please. Be selfish. And generous.
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