Wednesday, August 1, 2012

When Selfishness is not a Bad Thing

Most of us are taught from our early years that it’s wrong to be selfish. At great risk of igniting a fierce debate I’d like to say that this is not entirely correct. Humans are inherently selfish; just look at children, for instance; and some of that human selfishness is an evolutionary development that ensures the survival of the individual and, indirectly, survival of the species.

Now, pure selfishness that benefits only the individual, or worse, disadvantages others is not a good thing. But, consider this; when you do something because it makes you feel good about yourself is this not a selfish act? Acts of charity that help others also make the givers feel good. Acts that enhance our reputation or cause others to view us with greater respect benefit us personally. These are all selfish acts; but, they are what I call selfless selfishness. They are the kind of selfishness that is outer rather than inner directed.

So, don’t beat yourself up for that feeling of self-satisfaction you get from giving a hand to some less fortunate person. The feeling is natural, so go with it. Keep the feeling alive by doing more. Try to commit at least one act of selfless selfishness each day. Not only will it make you feel better, but it will contribute to making the world a better place.

 Charles Ray is a writer of a number of works of fiction, including the popular Al Pennyback mystery series, and is a featured travel writer for Yahoo! Voices. He is also Diplomatic Editor for Asnycnow Radio.