5 Ways to be Selfish and Happy
“If believing in yourself and going after what you want in life and realising your worth is ruthless and selfish, then I’m definitely ruthless and selfish.” — Nicole Scherzinger
“What we need in this world is less selfish people, not more!”
Yes, I hear you, and you’re totally right. Selfishness, at least in the form that we know it, has caused more problems than solutions. But selfishness has been given a bad rap because it’s typically not used for good, and as Uncle Ben taught us, “With great power, comes great responsibility,” and selfishness is indeed a great power.
When we hear “selfish” we suddenly we picture all the people we hate, starting with my neighbor currently playing his dumb music at full volume. But what if we could be ethically selfish? What if our selfishness could potentially result in benefit for others?
Learn to Say No
This is first on the list because even though we KNOW we cannot say yes to everything and everyone, we still try, and this often leaves us exhausted and hating life.
I know you want to be Superman for your family, but you were not granted those awesome genes, so you’ll have to work with what you have. And what you have is limited strength, availability, and time.
I know a man who is fully devoted to his community. Everyone knows that he’s always available, and he’ll help as much as he can, sometimes even more. Some people made it a custom to take advantage of it, and because he refused to say no, he recently suffered a heart attack, had to have surgery, and now walks around with a defibrillator inside his chest… all because of the stress that came along not saying no.
People like these are thoroughly loved, but also thoroughly abused by the toxic and opportunistic people that may surround them. (More on that below)
A sacred text respected by millions of people around the world provides this wonderful insight:
“Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:39)
Whether you’re a believer or not, that’s some damn good advice. Love for others has to start with the self. Can you truly love others when you haven’t learned to love the person with whom you spend your entire day? (I mean you, not your clingy boyfriend/girlfriend)
Loving yourself means that, from time to time, you’ll have to be selfish. You’ll have to recognize your needs and desires AND you’ll have to fulfill them. All for the benefit of those around you.
Pursue Your Interests
A big part of loving yourself means doing what you like. Do you like to read? Set time aside for that. Do you like play Sudoku without having to sit on the toilet while you do it? You do you, boo. According to research, hobbies are a great way to manage stress. A survey conducted by the Australian Psychological Society found that 4 out of 5 participants found that simple activities like listening to music and engaging in hobbies were moderately to highly effective in managing stress. New Zealand scientists also found that the wellbeing derived from engaging in hobbies can last until the next day.
So if you want to be healthy enough to continue helping your loved ones, set time aside for yourself and no one else!
Because a lovable and altruistic person such as yourself is such an easy target for toxic people, you must learn to set limits. You are not always available to help sometimes simply because you don’t want to. Here’s a secret: you don’t have to have an excuse for not helping. You can simply say no, and leave it at that. If a person is expecting you to be altruistic toward them they’re the ones being selfish. Don’t let them label you as such simply because you’re setting limits.
Stop Looking for External Validation
One of the reasons some may feel the need to be constantly altruistic is because they dread the “selfish” label. They avoid it like my dog avoids baths. They rather exhaust themselves granting the wishes of others, sometimes over their own well-being, because they don’t want to be considered selfish.
The only validation you need is your own. Yes, people will label you as selfish, and they will try to guilt you into doing what they want you to do. Do not let them.
When you stop looking for external validation, you grow wings. Suddenly you’re not tied to anyone’s opinion but your own, which frees you from many unnecessary burdens.
So free your mind from the bad rap selfishness has been given. Perhaps this flaw is exactly what you need to free yourself during these selfish times.