It’s okay to be selfish

Tyler HurstBlog5 Comments

Today, I gave $5 to a gas station clerk and instructed him to apply it to a guy named Bradford (Army reservist?) in fatigues.

A few days ago, I was offered money to retract public criticism I’d made about a local tech company’s owner. Instead, I told everyone I know about it.

I’ve given money to Lemonade:Detroit, The Torch Theatre and Podiobooks.com.

If you’d just met me, you’d think I was some sort of philanthropist who likes making people happy, exposing evil doers and was supportive of the arts. You might think my acts were a form of altruism, as the above actions don’t directly benefit me in any way. You’d be wrong.

Image courtesy of Hugh MacLeod of GapingVoid.com, who is awesome.

I did every single one of those things because I’m selfish. Absolutely, completely and totally selfish. And I think you should be too.

I’ve never seen a situation where giving out of guilt or obligation satisfied both sides. Everyone, from volunteers during catastrophes to the people running free events, should be honest with themselves about the exact reason they do what they do. I’m tired of everyone claiming that they’re doing if for others, as if helping others is in some way going to make everything better.

We should be leading by example. We should communicate, over and over, that it’s perfectly okay to do things for other people for completely selfish reasons. I gave that $5 because it made me feel good. I wrote about Jason Hope because the attention and thanks from people who dislike him felt great. I give money to cool groups because it feels awesome to support someone’s dream.

Each of these little actions, taken together, make me into a better person. And because of this, I’m able to do more, be more, teach more, learn more and achieve more. I like the feeling the aforementioned acts give me.

And that’s the most important lesson I’ve learned: it’s better to give out of want than need. Eventually, this will all come back to me.

This is not to say selfish actions serve much purpose. There’s a time to hoard and a time to share, but it’s the reasoning behind our actions that matter most.

Be selfish. People will love you for it.

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Tyler HurstIt’s okay to be selfish

5 Comments on “It’s okay to be selfish”

  1. Amanda

    without diminishing the point here, which is that doing good also feels good… an excellent argument for the doing if there ever was one…. I’d argue that not all doing is motivated primarily by selfishness. do you not feel a sense of duty to do those things as well? these are modern times, but many are still guided by basic rules of tzedakah or correlating tenants in other religions that mandate giving. i don’t know that i do it because of my religiousness, which ain’t much… but I do think I often to do out of a different duty, which is, “if you are in a position to make a marked difference in someone’s life, particularly when they are unable to do so, you are morally required to do so”. this is not to say that you might not receive an auxiliary warm fuzzy from the experience, but my point is just that I’m not sure the motivation is always selfishness and guilt and duty are NOT the same thing. the argument you make that one should do good things though, that I agree with.

  2. tannerc

    Is it possible that we’re all just selfish by nature? And what you’re saying here is… that’s okay?

    So it’s okay for me to say: go ‘like’ my business on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/aspindleco) because it’s selfish, but you’ll also get to learn a lot about starting a new business, creativity, and inspiration if you do… so it benefits not only me, but you?

    I’ll send you $5 if you do.

  3. Pingback: Not Against My Better Judgment | Plenty Of Beach, Not Enough Ocean

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