Selfishness is the one true driving force of all things good, bad, and indifferent. It is the root of all free-thinking. What’s in it for me? We may not think that is what comprises our every thinking moment, but it is the one true source of human behavior.
We want to feel good about ourselves and others when we do what is termed ‘selfless’ acts. There are no selfless acts, only acts of which our intent is to make someone or something whole which is not deemed selfish at all. Truly, however, whatever decisions we make are done in a resulting effort to cause ourselves to become whole in some way or another. Allowing a child to go to their first sleepover. While we may believe it does not benefit us personally, every new learning experience for our children benefits us in that our children become more rounded people, are happier or more content, and become their own people, which in turn betters our lives. I would say the result had selfish origins. Whatever example you use, selfishness is the reason. As Dr. Phil would say, “And how’s that working for you?”
We have been conditioned to believe that being selfish is a bad thing. In my opinion, not necessarily. The ‘ish’ suffix usually means in the ballpark. For example: Let’s meet for lunch noonish. That would indicate around noon. It’s a lax speculative timeframe. We have an idea that we’ll be there around the same time — more or less. Why is it a definitive term when we pair it with self. ‘That person is selfish’ is supposed to indicate they are unredeemable in their ability to see outside of their own wants or needs. If used in the same context as noonish in the example, it would mean they kinda sorta are thinking of themselves, not that they are only thinking of themselves.
We are selfish in wanting to be clean, fashionable, educated, fit, healthy, have good relationships with family and friends, a nice home, a decent automobile, sturdy walking shoes, beautiful jewelry, etc. Every single thing we bring into our lives is for selfish reasons. It is self from which all else derives. Without self, there would be no reason to live or love or exist.
We throw out the word selfish at someone whenever we feel they are not meeting our own self interest, selfish thinking, desires, needs, etc. When we do that, we are relinquishing our power to someone else. That person now has the power over our thoughts and emotions because we have decided to grant that to them through our own white-hot attention and judgment. They may have put themselves first, but so have we by proxy. We now feel we have been discarded, unrecognized, put-upon in some way because the other person is soooo selfish. By allowing their selfishness to affect us in a negative way, we have turned our own empowerment over to them. View it for what it is and maintain your own perspective and self-worth. There’s that word again — self. Power, spite, and narcissism are parts of selfishness, skewed parts, but parts nonetheless. As with all human emotion and endeavor, self-absorption can be overly demonstrative.
Selflessness in its typical meaning is a myth. We think whenever we act in favor of another over ourselves, we are being selfless. In reality we made our selfless decision for ourselves to become whole in some way. Making the other person happy gives us a warm heart. We feel better about ourselves because we thought of the other person. We bought the person behind us in line this morning a coffee. A selfless act? Did we need to do that? No on both counts. We willingly decided to make someone else’s day better which makes us feel better. There hopefully is a domino effect where the other person pays that good will forward. We all benefit from a happier and more generous world. There is nothing that occurs in a selfless act that does not benefit our psyche and well-being in some way.
Thinking outside of ourselves does not come naturally. Through positive reinforcement, we are conditioned to share our toys or ice cream cone with others. We would rarely do that willingly. We have been told that is the right thing to do, and when we do that selfless act, someone tells us how good we are, takes our picture, puts it on Facebook. Awwwwwww…… Look how sweet. It is sweet, darn sweet, but we have benefited from the ‘selfless’ act we have passed on to another generation. Sharing is selfish — it makes us feel good. Looking outside our own wants and needs selfishness at its best. Selfishness at its worst is at the expense of all others. It’s an extreme presence of something that has spun itself into a cocoon of miserly bad-faith decisions. The person who demonstrates this type of behavior has determined selfishness in their own way. Selfishness is as individual as fingerprints. Selfishness is not a bad thing. Overly anything is, however. It is a caring of one’s self that determines how we conduct ourselves in this world and how others treat us in return. Always be curious about why you respond to a situation or behave the way you do. Teaching yourself to absorb the best of things unto yourself by extending the best of yourself to others and the world will determine how you love and are consequently loved… Sandy