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  • Writer's pictureKevin

When is it okay to be selfish?

Does anybody else find it strange that during the previous year, a time in which humanity has suffered great loss as a whole, many folks seem to have slipped into a pattern of selfishness that was previously unheard-of? Aggressive drivers passing a line of cars in order to merge over at the very last second. Shopping carts left haphazardly throughout the grocery store parking lot. Some people are possibly even endangering others because they feel "inconvenienced".

Selfishness as a whole is generally frowned upon by society. Think back to your first memories of school, possibly even pre-school. One of the first lessons we learn as responsible citizens is that sharing is important. This life lesson carries us through much of our formative years and nobody wants to be labeled as the "ball hog" or the "mean kid". Even bullying is a form of selfishness in that the bully is using force and intimidation to put others down, thus trying to improve his or her own self-worth. We even give out awards in school for "best team player" or "Miss Congeniality". But then, something happens as we get older. Life as an adult is busy, often difficult, and many times downright frustrating. It becomes harder to be kind to others when it feels like they're less kind to you. Selfishness starts to creep in and let's be honest, sometimes it's just WAY easier to be selfish than the alternative. Who wants to sit in that long line of traffic after a hard day at work? Why should I be bothered to walk this cart all the way over to the cart return when they pay somebody to bring them in? All these thoughts are normal, frequent, and totally understandable.

Many of the people you see exhibiting the most selfish public actions on a daily basis would do ANYTHING for their children, their parents, theirs spouses, or even their pets. This is because selfishness is so much easier when it's anonymous. We, as adults, have increasingly lost the ability to recognize that every single person you interact with on a daily basis means the world to somebody else. You're not passing a line of cars, you're passing a line of mothers fighting cancer, couples on the verge of a terrible divorce, soon-to-be-fathers who just found out they're soon-to-be fathers, and children who still think that being selfish is bad. Doing a selfish act doesn't make you a bad person, but doing selfish acts can certainly make you look like a bad person to the uninformed.

But here's the problem: Society will crumble if we don't look after one another. If you think about all the people in history that are considered the "greats", how many of them would you associate with the word "selfishness"? My guess is zero. Gandhi, Jesus, Muhammad, Martin Luther King Jr, Abraham Lincoln, and Nelson Mandela are all regaled as some of the most influential humans ever, and every single one of them is known for their unselfish actions.

Is there a cure for the scourge of selfishness? Yes! And it's an easy one: Just treat others the same way you'd want them to treat the ones you love. Think about how your actions may affect those around you first. If every person did this on a daily basis, ALL of our lives would improve tremendously! Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you when it's okay to be selfish...that is the title of the blog after all! Like all things, moderation is key. Sometimes, it's perfectly fine to look after yourself before others, especially if your actions aren't harming anyone else. Put that work assignment on hold and take an afternoon nap. Cancel a date and treat yourself to a night of self-pampering. Hire a babysitter and go take that yoga class you've been wanting to take ( :) I'll leave you with my favorite quotes about selfishness:

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