Are we selfish? When this question crops up in my mind, I try to seek an answer within myself first. Am I selfless? After much thinking and admonishing myself, I try to extract an honest answer out of my evasive mind…
“Well, we all have selfish tendencies – it is only human,” my inner voice whispers.
At times I might have offered my services, done something good for others, without expecting anything in return. Is that enough?
I have given unconditional love to my children and family but another question confronts me…”doesn’t everybody do that?”
‘No, everybody doesn’t do that’, says my friend.
Why are children abandoned, abused, killed? Many of them grow up in acute neglect.
So I went on to search…what exactly is selfishness? While it was so confusing and mind boggling, two definitions appealed to me:
According to Wikipedia: “Selfishness is placing concern with oneself or one’s own interests above the well-being or interests of others.”
According to Oscar Wilde: “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”
I again asked myself: Do I fit in here? I have never placed ‘my interest’ above but my inner voice slowly speaks: “sometimes, you have!”
I ignore that voice and tell myself: I have never asked others to live according to my wishes. But these arguments didn’t melt my doubts.
Why did I choose only these definitions? Because they suit me?
This reminds me of a woman who gave up her successful career to look after her ailing husband. She was applauded by everybody and was called selfless, but she admitted that she was selfish because she had placed her own concern over and above anything else.
“A selfless act out of even the purest desire to do for others, will be selfish in the satisfaction and happiness it brings to one doing it.”―Ashly Lorenzana
My friend thinks falling in love is also selfish! Isn’t that absurd? How can the basic human emotion make us selfish?
When I try to analyze further, I agree with the reasoning: Love makes people selfish. It crosses all boundaries, it transcends all values and it drags them away into their own world. “Love is the most selfish of all the passions,” said Alexandre Dumas.
I ponder further…
Even those who work for the welfare of others are selfish as they have their own goals in mind… perhaps they want fame, power, self-fulfillment or are eager to record their names in the pages of history.
So I realized that:
- Selfishness can be defined according to one’s own perspective.
- Selfish traits are inherent.
- Self- interest takes us closer to our goals.
- Selflessness doesn’t bring any rewards.
- Sacrifices are mocked at in today’s world.
- The more you acquire, more selfish you become, whether in terms of money or knowledge.
- Selfish people are actually weak, insecure and unhappy.
Let’s look within:
- Are you kind and considerate?
- Are you tolerant?
- Do you listen to others?
- Do you really understand the feelings of others?
- Do you respect the opinion of others?
I know we all nod to the above questions without giving a profound and honest thought to them. I also hope these questions will keep guiding us toward better understanding and enhancing our personality.
If selfishness hurts you, don’t forget it hurts others too. A little concern for people around us makes us emotionally balanced and less selfish.
Have you come across selfish people? Do you have a different understanding of selfishness? It’s your turn to share your valuable opinion.
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© Balroop Singh