It doesn’t matter if you are a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu or an Atheist, show me a principle that proves we are solely responsible for someone else’s happiness. We continually mistake the art of loving and respecting each other, with the concept of making each other happy.
Joy and happiness are internally driven and therefore are 100% driven by our individual attitudes. The unfortunate truth is, the only place I have ever heard or witnessed people being responsible for each other’s happiness is either in novels or movies.
I grew up in a Christian family. There are many things that my religious upbringing commands me to do. Ensuring/guaranteeing the happiness of others is not one of them.
I have found that once you realize that the only person’s happiness that you are responsible for is your own, two things tend to happen. One, your life instantly becomes less stressful. There is such a huge weight that is lifted once you confront and release the idea of this false responsibility that you can never achieve in the first place. The second thing that happens is, you begin to come to the conclusion that you can not give what you don’t already possess. While we may not be responsible for another person’s happiness, we can’t spread happiness if we don’t have it. Just like laughter, happiness can be contagious. There becomes only one logical solution to living a life of happiness.
The conclusion I have discovered is, I want to encourage everyone to be selfish! Please live a life that is as selfish as you can possibly muster!
Lets’s start here, let’s define selfish. The official definition of selfish is, lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. As young children we are taught to share and look out for other people, with the idea that looking out for others is more important than taking care of ourselves.
I submit this idea. There is more to being selfish than a definition in the dictionary. This idea of selfishness is unfortunately who we are as human beings. We are selfish by nature! However, by embracing and feeding this inward desire in a positive way we become both selfish and selfless at the same time.
The most selfish/selfless thing any of us can do is give of ourselves. How can giving to others be selfish? Even if our motives are pure and we have no conscious desire for praise or recognition, there is a deep emotional pleasure effect that is achieved through helping people. Some will say given the circumstances, it can be as powerful and equal to getting high. Some studies have shown there to be built-in “selfish receptors” that help motivate our actions. These actions we participate in stimulate our body to produce dopamine (the selfish receptors) naturally. I am neither a doctor nor a psychologist but I have eyes and can observe human behavior. I don’t need an extensive study to prove this idea true. I don’t need to look any further than my family and friends to see this scenario in real-time, no matter how well-meaning the intentions might be.
I believe that if we weren’t designed to be selfish and desire recognition, we would be less apt to help each other. There are many times throughout our lives when the only “pleasure” we get from helping someone is simply the satisfaction of knowing we have done the right thing. If you don’t agree, you probably don’t have a teenager. Almost all teenagers come around and are very grateful adults but the teenage years can be some very lean years. So lean sometimes, you begin to understand why some species eat their young.
As challenging as the teenage years may be and no matter what your child has put you through, as a good parent we recognize that sometimes pain is part of the process. So we selflessly give to our children because we desperately and selfishly want them to do well.
Being selfish does not have to be a negative. Don’t feel guilty for being selfish. Be selfish with a positive purpose!