Now that I’ve got your attention, I want to talk about something our society has really put a negative spin on: Selfishness. I’m sure several faces come to mind as you consider this word. Yes, there really are people out there that have absolutely no regard for others, but there’s actually another definition of this word that is overlooked. As I was writing this article I was curious what Merriam-Webster had to say. I liked the second definition best to support the point I am trying to make in today’s article.
Here it is: Selfish: “Arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others.”
Yikes! Sounds pretty…selfish. Or does it? Let’s start with the first part, “Arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage.” Maybe your mother or father was at one time more concerned with your safety and well-being then you were, but since you’re now older than reading age (I know you are because you’ve come this far in the article), I’m pretty sure no one is more concerned about you than, well, you. And that’s a great thing. Why?
First of all, no one else can control your life experience except you. I know at times it’s hard to believe like when you just got yelled at by your boss or spouse, or you happen to be a few dollars short, and the engine dies in your car. These experiences may be unpleasant, but at the end of the day, no one else has the power to make you happy or provide or produce the things in your life you think will make you happy.
I put that in italics in an attempt you’d reread that and consider it. Happiness is a feeling or a state of being we all attempt to achieve, but sometimes we go about it the wrong way. We reach outside ourselves to latch on to it, but tire in the elusive attempt to reach out and grab it.
The truth is your happiness will attract what it is you think will make you happy. We’re taught this backwards. You must have the feeling of what you desire first so that the desire can take shape and come to you. Yup, italics again, re-read that and let it really sink in. You must figure out how you want to feel having something, getting something, or being with someone first. If you don’t, you’ll get a mixed-up version of your desire. Only you can be the captain of your ship. You must be selfish enough to discover what you really want, how you want your life to be, and how to activate your internal GPS (feelings) to guide you there.
You must learn how to use your own feelings, opinions and ideas to create your life—outside opinions will not create your dream life. Others’ opinions can be useful as you’re gathering information about something you may want, but be careful. An opinion is simply someone else’s take on a situation that has been clouded with their own experiences and beliefs. That’s why it’s important to disregard others when you’re sure of your direction and they disagree.
Speaking of others, let’s take a look at the second part of the definition of Selfish: “…in disregard of others.” Wow, that’s a knee-jerker for most of us who’ve been taught in many ways to put ourselves last. If you’re struggling or have struggled with clarity on what you want, I’d bet money that you’ve somehow lost sight of the fact it’s normal and natural to think of yourself and create life on your terms. Before I go on, I’m not saying that you should throw all caution to the wind and leave your spouse and family out in the cold; but, if you would like those relationships to improve, this next segment may actually help you do that.
Let’s go back to the idea of you creating your own happiness. You like to be around happy people, right? That means other people like to be around you more when you’re happy. It’s contagious! Other people will actually like your selfishness in this aspect because the happier you are, the happier your spouse, family, friends and co-workers become. Life simply mirrors back to you what you have going on inside. Smile…and the world will smile back.
Another reason it’s awesome to shake things up a bit and consider yourself more is that most people are doing that too. A lot of people are so caught up in their own lives: problems, drama, what’s for dinner…they barely notice your sacrificial attempts anyway. Why not use this time to do what you want and what makes you happy? And if they do get mad, it might be because you’re not following their agenda. If that’s the case, it’s pretty cool to stand in that independence. And that’s because…only you can change your circumstances and your life. Until you become selfish enough to do so, nothing will change.