The addictive nature of selfish kindness/The upside of selfishness

We would all like to think we are not selfish or at least we try to not give the impression that we are. In our culture, selfishness is looked down upon and thought to be a negative trait. There are times, however, when there is an upside to selfishness.

When we do a good deed, whether we want to admit it or not, we still want some sort of praise or recognition. Even Mother Theresa wanted God’s recognition.  In her last years, she seemed to have lost her faith. Having worked so hard giving, she went through a very dark period which lasted two decades, in which she wondered how God could allow such atrocities in the world. She gave her life to a cause and got little back but the satisfaction of helping those in need. Yet, she accomplished so much, she serves as a role model in her quest to end world suffering.

“In my soul, I feel just that terrible pain of loss,” Mother Theresa wrote in 1959, “of God not wanting me — of God not being God — of God not existing.” These words reflect the disappointment of not feeling acknowledged. She also expected recognition.

Strive to make people feel better through acts of selfish kindness

Maya Angelou concludes; “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is selfish kindness at work. Striving to give and make people feel good, will make you feel even better about yourself. It’s in the giving and less in the taking that you will experience a sense of accomplishment. Being thanked and recognized will make you want to get your hands dirty and help out more. Feeling good about yourself is addictive.

We don’t have to do great things or make great sacrifices to help people. Little acts of kindness go a long way, further than we might imagine. Think of those little gestures someone did for you that made your day or even changed your life or outlook.

I am far from a saint and I’m selfish in good and bad ways but through the years, selfish kindness has won over, mostly because of how I feel when I make someone happy or help them even in the smallest of ways.

How to perform little acts of selfish kindness:

  • Listening. This is becoming almost obsolete with all the chatter in our fast-paced digital life. How much money would be saved on psychologists if we were to only sit quietly and listen to someone? The acknowledgment that you care lies in this simple act. Maybe you may have no solution to their problem, but allowing a person to express what is bothering them will take some of the load off their shoulders and perhaps allow them to find their own solution.
  • Retweet, Facebook mention: In this age of technology you can easily brighten someone’s day by sharing their tweets, commenting on a status, or posting a heartfelt note on a wall. It’s just a click and a few characters that will acknowledge them. These gestures must be genuine to be effective!
  • Share your feelings. Sometimes we don’t want to bother people with our problems and anxieties, but letting someone know how you feel makes them feel important, and as I always like to say: “you honor someone by telling them how you feel.”
  • Foresee what people need and help them out without them having to ask. There are clues you can pick up on when you talk to someone. Maybe they need help moving, offer your pick-up truck for the day. Perhaps they are trying to find a better job, refer them to someone you know is hiring.

At the end of the day, we all want to feel some sense of accomplishment. Making yourself feel good by caring for others is a great achievement. Strive to be selfishly kind. We can change the negative selfish connotations this word has by turning it around. Being selfish isn’t so bad, after all!

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