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