Selfishness can be a little bit Selfless

This is a pretty confusing world we live in.

We’re constantly bombarded with the idea that we should follow our dreams and passions, and yet the fear of failing our families, friends, and communities keeps so many of us from doing just that. People can get so wrapped up in what others think or need they never stop to ask themselves: what do I need?

I found your mathematical solution for how to be a good person hilarious and very insightful. The idea that we’re all fighting for the same thing, our collective happiness and prosperity, is wonderful. Not only does it make complete sense, it supports a personal philosophy of mine

Taking care of yourself is just as important of taking care of other people.

I think we live in a society that in some ways glorifies the idea of selflessness. Don’t get me wrong, being selfish is rarely a good thing and having empathy for others is always better than being a sociopath, but sometimes I wonder if we take it too far. If our desire to be selfless takes away from our own happiness and, in turn, from the collective happiness of our race.

I’m going to borrow your idea, but instead of time I’m going to pretend we can quantify happiness. How do you measure happiness? In smiles? In laughter? In cups of coffee? Wait, that’s a song from Rent.

I digress. Let’s just pretend happiness is measured in smiles.

Now, let’s say after work you usually go home and read for a while. It helps you wind down and it makes you smile. Well, one day you’re on your way home and you’re excited to pick your book up again, but you get a call from a friend. Your friend is really upset. They just had a fight with their significant other and need some support.

Okay, you say. You love your friend and you can always read tomorrow.

You’ve given your smile away to your friend and that’s okay. Sometimes, someone needs that smile more than you.

No loss or gain for the human race.

Well what happens if that friend calls the next day? And the next day? And the next day? You haven’t had a chance to read in days and now you’re feeling frustrated and run down. Now, you just don’t have any smiles to give away and neither of you have smiles.

That’s a loss for the human race.

See what I mean?

I think our culture sometimes puts a lot of value on being generous and empathetic and selfless, but we never talk about the fact that it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to be a little selfish time to time, even if that means someone in your life might be upset or disappointed.

You can’t give other people smiles if you have no smiles to give.

This is a philosophy I’ve developed over the last few years and it’s something I have to remind myself of every day. It’s difficult and I have to be realistic with my limits, but it’s made me happier and in turn has allowed me to be more selfless.

Selfish is such a dirty word. According to the dictionary selfish means devoted to or caring only for oneself. Selfish isn’t inherently a bad thing, it’s just how our society views the word. According to that definition, my craft projects are selfish because I do them for myself as a form of self care.

But wait, most of my projects, despite being done for selfish reasons, result in beautiful gifts for my friends and family.

See? Selfishness isn’t always selfish.

-EMS