It’s Good to be Selfish… Sometimes…

Whenever someone has told me that I’m selfish, I have usually taken it pretty hard. I mean, in essence, they’re telling me that I don’t care about anyone but myself. But I know that that’s not true, because I care a great deal about other people. I’ve always been very interested in listening to what people are going through, and have loved giving advice whenever I can. But does the fact that I love doing it make me selfish?

selfish is as selfish does

I can think of other situations where it is unclear whether someone is simply doing something for the good of another person, or for the good of themselves. For instance, a man holding a door open for a woman. Is he doing so to be nice? To appear more attractive/ desirable? To assert his “male dominance?” Or what about a high school basketball coach? Is he putting in countless hours of his time so that he can produce a winning team and look better amongst his peers? Or is he doing it to receive personal satisfaction from the fact that he helped a generation of kids learn teamwork and develop self confidence? What do you think?

This topic is something that I have pondered quite a bit, and I believe I’ve found a happy-medium. Someone is truly selfish when their actions benefit one person only, themselves. But if that selfishness motivates them to do something that benefits the lives of others, then I’d say they’re alright. I mean, we’re all in this together right?

THE TAKEAWAY: The next time someone calls you selfish, ask yourself if what you did benefitted anyone other than yourself. If so, then you’re probably doing something right. As long as you align your own, selfish wants with the wants of others, your selfishness will stand to motivate you to create better personal relationships, higher self confidence, and ultimately, a better world for you to live in.

3 thoughts on “It’s Good to be Selfish… Sometimes…

  1. Dear Friend, when we have double motives, i.e. when something we do benefits others as well as ourselves, it’s difficult to say we are NOT selfish. What proportion is it for others and how much is it for himself? For instance, if someone were to give a large sum of money to the poor, and if he insists that the media must be present, how do we know that it is not a matter of really “buying” reputation and the donor is merely using the poor? However if the donor gives privately without any publicity at all, then we might more appropriately say that it was NOT a selfish act because it benefited others without benefit to himself. So I think to consider an act that is NOT selfish, it must benefit others but not himself. What do you think?

    • Dear Friend,

      Thank you for your comment! You bring up an excellent point. I agree that there is a very thin line between selfishness and selflessness. In the example you provided, I would say that the fact that he insisted the media be there for the donation shows that the donator was looking for some kind of external praise, rather than the intrinsic value of the donation in itself.

      The point I was trying to make with this post was that by nature, we are all selfish. Without selfishness engrained into us as humans, we would have died from starvation thousands of years ago. Even today, everything we do in life causes us to either lose or gain something. For instance, buying a gift for a friend. You buy them the gift to make them feel appreciated, but in turn you benefit from this because they reciprocate that feeling to you. You appreciate them, they appreciate you. Do you think this makes the gift giving a selfish act then? Or is it selfless?

      I think the root of this issue is in the intentions of the person. Unfortunately, these aren’t always outwardly communicated, but they are what TRULY determines whether an act is selfish or not. If I choose to write this blog for you, the reader, then I believe it is not selfish. In my mind I know that I do it simply to share things I think about with others so that they can benefit. I know my intentions and therefore know that writing these is not selfish. But to an outsider, it could seem like I’m writing them to make others think I’m smart, or to push my opinions on others. I know in my heart that this is not true, but it could make my actions seem selfish to someone else. What do you think?

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