In conversation with a friend the other day, it’s occurred to me just how much stigma there is attached to being selfish. The idea that there seems to be shame hidden in the way we think of things, really struck a chord in me.
We must have been talking about looking after the graves of our ancestors and I’ve been told that it’s a selfish act, cuz’ we really only just do it to feel good about ourselves. What surprised me here was not that such things would be perceived as acts of selfishness, but the fact that feeling good about ourselves is not perceived as a valid reason to do things anymore.
Now, where is this fear of being selfish coming from? True, it’s in our hearts that harming other is no good, but if an action which is not intended to harm anyone and makes you feel good about yourself is to be considered, is being selfish really an argument against performing it?
I am selfish to an extreme – I do things for myself a lot, I eat the food that I like, I spend my time with the people I love, I go on ridiculous journeys with my Yellow Beauty, I read and write and watch films, and sometimes I even go dancing, travelling or do kite-surfing. But the most selfish thing that I am capable of is doing good things for the people who are dear to me for there is no greater reward than seeing someone smile. To me, there’s no greater achievement than being able to help someone not out of obligation, but out of sheer contentment in doing so; there is no greater joy than being able to give out of the pure selfish desire of my own heart.
I’ll go to the extreme here and say that there is probably nothing more selfish than one’s desire to love and care. Cuz’, let’s be honest about it, nobody raises their children out of the noble intent of benefiting the society or preserving the human race. The compromises, sacrifices and changes in one’s everyday life that choosing a family life requires, must be worthwhile, though, if people to this day choose to do it. It must be somewhat full-filling. For me, that’s the ultimate proof of the God-given drive and right to be selfish. Selfish to the extent where you cannot help, but desire to be kind to those around you.
In order to get to experiencing the joys of such outrageous selfishness, though, we should really strive to be less frightened of our own true selves rather than appearing to be self-less. There is some truth coded in the language of the concept ‘self-less’ even: now, why would I really want to be (my)self less?
So, please don’t save me from my desire to be selfish, but only from the flaw in thinking that I should aim to be self-less.