Donating or volunteering is something you do for other people, right?
True, but it’s also something you do for yourself.
The word selfish has a lot of negative connotations, but it’s not an inherently negative word. Let’s break it down:
Definition of Self: the entire person of an individual
Function of ish: of, relating to, or being
So, we can define selfish as, “Of or relating to the individual.”
That doesn’t sound so bad, now does it? In fact, from this perspective, it’s hard to imagine how anything that we do isn’t selfish.
Everything I say and do relates to me, because I’m the one saying and doing it. When I eat breakfast, it’s selfish, because I, the individual, am hungry.
Actions have consequences. So even though all my actions are selfish, some are better for me than others. Eating yogurt and fresh fruit for breakfast is probably better for me than 6 donuts.
With me so far?
This is where it gets cool. Some of the best selfish acts you can do are those that you do for others.
Giving is Good Selfishness
Once your basic humans needs are satisfied, the amount of additional pleasure you get from addressing those needs plummets. That sixth donut doesn’t taste nearly as good as the first.
On top of that, many selfish acts have short life spans. Even if I eat six donuts this morning, I’m still going to be hungry for lunch.
But not with giving. When I give, I feel good the moment I do it. When I think back on it the next day, the next month, the next year, I still feel good about it. 5 years ago, I took an elderly man out to a Chinese Restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner. Neither of us had friends or family around, and instead of sitting alone, we shared plates of sesame chicken while he talked about his kids. I still smile when I think about that.
Each new person I impact, each new thing I give is a brand new experience. It’s never like eating a sixth donut.
So give, because selfish is good as long as they are good selfish acts.