Saturday, July 19, 2008

Embracing Selfishness

I've decided to break down the title "Selfish Matters," just so I'm not leaving anything to the imagination. You see, you can either say, "On his blog, he talks about all sorts of things. The common theme is that they are all selfish matters." Alternatively, you could say, "He pursues being a better person. In his journey, he's realized that having intellect matters, individual responsibility matters and being selfish matters."

The world would be a better place if we all thought about and acted in our long-term self interest. We wouldn't choose to smoke, we'd drink in moderation, we'd cross the street at the cross-walk, we'd join our local community association and bowling leagues. We'd make an effort to get to know our neighbours, we'd question whether our use of fossil fuel is sustainable and we'd use compact fluorescent lightbulbs.

Why, you say, in the name of self-interest would we do this? Because we're all good "optimizers." We all know how to make choices that serve us and help us, personally. For some reason though, we're typically short-sighted. I think having a community we can trust and a healthy environment to live in are some of the key factors in a happy and content life. On a daily basis we forget to pursue these important issues. If we were really, truly self-interested, we'd forego today's more shallow concerns because we know we're attaining a broader definition of success.

The more conventional way to say this is that our lives are out of balance. Pretty much everything around us (commercials, media, fad diets, "overnight" success stories...) tells us it's OK to seek the quick fix. It's hard to remind ourselves what our focus really should be. Simply reminding myself to "be selfish" seems to do the trick. When I fully embrace selfishness, I can commit the time, effort and perserverance to achieve the good things in life.

1 comment:

emmaline said...

Yesterday I opened a book called Stewardship by Peter Block. I thought of you immediately when i read this: "We choose service over self-interest most powerfully when we build the capacity of the next generation to govern themselves." Maybe its not so selfish after all?