I started thinking about this topic during a discussion of “What You Wish You Knew Then”. People were talking about the differences in their lives once they discovered that what makes them happy is just as important as what makes other people happy.
It really is true…if you are not happy, then it’s likely that no one around you is happy. Sounds self-centered to some people, especially women, but it’s not. And it is not even close to Gordon Gecko’s philosophy of “Greed is good.”
Thomas Leonard, the founder of Coach University, said,
“When you become truly selfish, you’ll have the extra reserves needed to really care about–and be generous with–others.”
Think about it. When you truly take care of yourself, only then can you have the reserves necessary to be generous with others. How many of us have this backwards? We take care of everyone (and everything) else, and leave ourselves for last.
How can we even think about being generous with what we don’t have to give?
For many of us, this phenomenon is a significant contributor to our stress levels. And we’re accomplishing great things in spite of our stress levels, so what’s wrong with that?
The obvious answer is burnout. We see it all around us. Friends, colleagues and family members who are stuck in careers they don’t want, in relationships that are going nowhere, living lives they didn’t choose–their gifts and talents going underutilized, or being buried under the pile of “shoulds”.
Perhaps the real benefit of becoming selfish is giving your gifts and talents room to develop.
“Gifts and talents need nourishment; they don’t blossom fully without it. If you’ve got a special talent or gift–and most of us do–become selfish for the sake of that if you cannot bring yourself to be selfish for your own sake.” (Thomas Leonard, again.)
We each have been given an incredible opportunity. I believe we all owe it to the world to live the best life we possibly can. There’s no point to doing otherwise. Are you doing that? I know I’m not, but I am getting better at it. Maybe if each of us gets a bit more selfish, we’ll not only be living the lives we want and deserve, but being more generous with each other and changing our world as we go.
Now the question is, “Where do I even begin to be more selfish?” Try scheduling some time each week, when it really is “all about you”…and keep the appointment! Time to read a book, take a bath, get outdoors, write in your journal (or work on that novel)–whatever you need to do more of to take care of your self. You’ll be surprised how quickly you (and your friends and family) see a change.