Be SelfishAUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
“No one and nothing can make you happy. Only you can make yourself happy.” ~ Gerardo Schmedling
I know; to be selfish does not seem a very appropriate advice at Christmas time. Besides, nobody likes to be tagged as being “egoist.” In its most common use, an egoistic person is a conceited person, too engrossed with his/her own interests to think about those of others.
However, the word egoism is rooted in philosophical theories 1 that speak of self-interest as the basis of moral behavior. The moral or ethical egoism is an ethical doctrine stating that the only moral way of acting is in our own interest. Even when we help others, we do it to get a profit or gain from it. It gives the individual a fundamental value. Each person should provide for their own good.
The rational egoism is a similar thesis that, in a more objective way, states that the pursuit of self-interest is always something rational. The pursuit of one’s own happiness is the highest moral purpose of our life.
In short, these theories somehow deny the existence of altruism. Whatever you do, the ultimate purpose of the action is your own welfare. When you give hand-outs to a beggar, what you ultimately seek is a personal pleasure: to feel like a better person, the satisfaction of contributing with something to society, etc.
Of course, as in any philosophical question, there are arguments going for and against this, which I will not comment any further. My intention is to present the term in a broader way, so you can see that being selfish is not as bad as it is popularly understood (not to mistake egoism with egocentrism, which is the inability to take the place of others).
Selfishness is necessary. Many times we act in a way that we don’t want to simply avoid being labeled as selfish.
Just think that it is your ego what gives you the will to keep the focus on your goals.
It is your ego what prevents emotional distractions, cools down your wild reactions and leads you to make the right decisions.
It is your ego what allows you to lose weight, save money and use your time efficiently.
The conscious selfishness helps you say no to others, which is essential to build your own life. In addition to strengthening your self esteem and self-confidence, learning to say no has other benefits that you can read here.
So be selfish… even at Christmas.