selfish

Why Being a Little Selfish is Good For You

“Selfish.”

The word has such negative connotations. It’s seen as a tremendous character flaw – the type of insult that someone may yell out in a heat of passion only to stop a conversation dead in its tracks, as the receiving party takes tremendous offense.

To be fair, part of that reputation is earned. We’ve all known people that are truly selfish – people that would figuratively (and possibly literally) step on the faces of others in order to pursue their own needs. These people are truly selfish individuals, and they often know very little of caring, happiness, giving, and love.

Yet it’s possible that, as a society, we’ve gone too far to the other side, promoting the idea that if we want to truly be good people, we need to be as selfless as possible.  We see this with caregiving, volunteer work, and raising a family – many people dedicate their entire lives to others. But there’s a problem – complete selflessness has a cost – and that cost is often your own health, happiness, and wellbeing.

Remember That You Are a Person Too

With so much emphasis on helping others, you should always remember that you deserve as much health and happiness as anyone else – possibly more. This is because:

  • You Are a Person – If one believes that everyone needs to deserves happiness, then you must also believe that you deserve happiness too.
  • You Can Control Your Happiness – As much as you try to help others, the only person whose happiness you can fix with any certainty is your own.
  • You Matter Most to You – When it comes to your life, no one is more important than yourself. Not friends. Not even family.

That last point is often forgotten. But the truth is that you are important. You matter. And you especially matter to you – the one person in this world that knows you best of all. It is for that reason that being a little bit selfish may be a good thing.

Selfishness and Happy Living

It feels good to give your life for someone else, but unless you also care about yourself, the chances of living a healthy and happy life will suffer. Caregivers are a great example of this. Caregiver anxiety is an extremely common condition, as caregivers give too much of themselves for their patient and forget/ignore the things that make them happy. In the end, while they may have made someone else’s life a little easier, they often make there’s a great deal worse.

It’s time to be a little bit selfish. It’s time to care about your own health and happiness, even if it’s slightly at the expense of someone you care about. Your happiness needs to be important to you. But perhaps the greatest reason to be a little selfish is because it makes you a better person for others as well.

  • Caregiving – It’s hard to be a good caregiver when you’re unhappy. The anxiety and stress can be draining and distracting, causing you to make more mistakes than if you were a little selfish and focused on your needs.
  • Parenting – Great parenting is not just about attending to all of your children’s needs. Great parenting is also about setting an example of how to be an emotionally happy and healthy person, and not be someone riddled with anxiety symptoms.
  • Relationships – You may love your partner to the point of wanting to care for their every whim, and your partner may accept this love with open arms. But they want you to be happy, even if that means not attending their every need.

If being a little bit selfish now and then helps you find happiness, and not at the long term expense of others, focusing on your own happiness not only benefits you, but may even benefit those that you’re giving to.  Yet even if it doesn’t, your happiness should be your priority above all others. If that means you need to be a little selfish now and again, then being a bit selfish may be a good thing.

—-

Ryan Rivera is a speaker, writer, and educator, focusing on living a healthy and happy life free of anxiety and stress. You can read more on his website at www.calmclinic.com.

Photo credit: “A Sign of Conflict‘ – Big Stock Photo

  • http://www.selfhelpurls.com/ SelfHelpURLs

    Awesome! A different perspective of “Selfishness” Love the post and gonna rethink my thoughts.

  • Savvyfinanciallatina

    Awesome post! It’s very true. You have to be happy first, before you can make anybody else happy. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nadeem-Akhtar/738103189 Nadeem Akhtar

    so true, thanks!

  • http://www.willtravelforwork.com/ Nick Vannello

    What the “All About Me” generations really want is for someone else to shower them with attention. For the last couple of generations it’s been “All About Me” – except when it comes to being responsible for your own actions.

    If you really want it to be “All About You”, you need to accept that you are instrumental in your own happiness and that if some area of your life is not satisfactory, it could be that you are the reason.

  • Purple_angle

    I totally agree

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Elaine-Enlightening/100003577333598 Elaine Enlightening

    I appreciate your balanced approach.  Every day I work towards self-fullness.  I used to be the one who sacrificially gave and gave, which benefited no one.  Now I give when it comes from the heart.  I also give, those around me permission to say no, when I ask for their help and to please let me know if I am pulling the guilt card to get their help.  It’s freeing to not be a people pleaser any longer.  

  • Anonymous

    “Selfishness” – The word itself has a negative spin to it somehow. I beg to differ a little on the use of this word even though I agree with the concept.
    I would rather protect my self-image, my health and my well being from the negative effects of my unselfish services.
    While it is important to serve others and doing that can bring happiness only to those who love to give their services without any selfish motives ( Remember, the definition of happiness is different for different people – Some are happy helping others, some are happy when they see others in pain).

    A great post overall. It brings the attention back to the fact that while we do love helping other people without being selfish about it, we also need to take care of ourselves because if I am not happy, I can’t make anybody else happy no matter how hard I try!

    Thank you for this awesome post!

  • http://www.trorglade.net/ Tror Glade

    Reality: No one is capable of caring for ME in the manner that I do. To that end, selfishness goes a long way. Too, whether we stifle it or not, giving is our innate nature. So… let’em have it, in a grand sense of course. 

  • Venkatramani Radhakrishnan

    Now I can say thanks to my friends who call me “selfish” :D

  • http://projectputthatcookiedownnow.com/ K_Stefaniak28

    This is all so true.  As a wellness coach I talk to people everyday that seem to refuse to take care of themselves because they are so busy helping the other people in their life, sometimes to the point of enabling.  This will be a good article to share with them.  Thanks! 

  • Angela

    I just learned that in a relationship…

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  • http://twitter.com/KeriNoack Keri Noack

    I agree with this, but people also say helping/caring for others increases your happiness. Maybe you need a little of both…

  • http://www.canofclouds.com/ Java

    This is gold! I’m going to pass this article on to my mum – and highlight the point about caregiver anxiety – it’s soo true, especially for a mother of 4. If this article hits home for anyone I strongly suggest reading this article: 
    http://josephrocca.com/howtobecomegreat/?p=155
    as well.
    Thanks Ryan!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002099709239 Filip Nikolic

    Lol i always whanted to kill myself for being ueseles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002099709239 Filip Nikolic

    Lol i always whanted to kill myself for being ueseles.

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  • http://www.buygenericmed.com/ Levitra

    Being Selfish doesn’t mean you don’t care for others. It simply means
    you make time and space in your life to care for your Self first

    • Armageddongal

      We’ll put, thanks

  • http://www.buygenericmed.com/ Levitra

    Being Selfish doesn’t mean you don’t care for others. It simply means
    you make time and space in your life to care for your Self first

  • Kellykells

    I guess I needed to hear & heed to that.. thanks for caring & sharing the thought…

  • Naresh

    This is awesome, this is really practically true.

  • Refiloe

    i really needed to hear that THANK YOU

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  • Armageddongal

    This article is important, since many like I have a family member or two who expect much from me. And when I say no they call me selfish or hypocrite. I felt bad, but after this article, I understand that I have the right to say no.

  • Rajanibala

    I just actually Googled “how to be selfish.” I think this is what I was looking for. Thanks!