Is Selfishness actually the Seed of Selflessness?




 


Look out for one another’s interest and not just for your own (Phil. 2:4), says the Holy Book calling us to be selfless in all we do. I would differ with the Holy Book and propagate you being self-centered before being selfless.

Conventional opinion would hold that selflessness is the key aspect in relationships and a fundamental attribute of long-lasting happiness and fulfillment. It is eudemonic. How sweet would it be to experience long lasting happiness? It is just like eating your favorite meal and it never gets finish. You just keep on having that good feeling.
The models of the conventional opinion of selflessness are Gandhi and Mother Teresa. They selflessly gave of themselves. Whatever they did was never for themselves and their loved ones but for their neighbors and their community at large. Their preachment is “pursuit of selflessness is the pursuit of durable happiness” (it sounds celestially good to possess durable happiness right???). The actions of the selfless always win the hearts of the masses and they occupy that unique and admirable positions in our hearts of the masses. We all want love, selflessness sure seems to be the best way to get love.
But mind you, the selflessness of the wise should not be mistaken for low self-esteem or low self-confidence.
Being selfless definitely puts you on a platform of holiness which we all yearn for in one way or another. The main question is how could you be selfless when you don’t have what it takes to be selfless?? In Latin, it is said Nemo dant quad non habent meaning you cannot give what you don’t have. You cannot give out love if you don’t have self-love. You wouldn’t respect a fellow human being if you don’t respect your very own self. What you see in other people is a reflection of the stuff you are made of.
Levenson et al in their 2001 paper Transcending the Self, suggested 6 practices to cultivate selflessness;
         i.      Practice generosity to achieve detachment from material possessions.
       ii.      Practice patience as an antidote to anger and hostility.
      iii.      Self-discipline.      
     iv.      Meditation.
       v.      Commitment.
     vi.      Avoidance/transformation of negative personality tendencies.
These are 6 simple though not easy ways to place you on the platform holiness and reward you with the currency of eudemonic and durable happiness. But looking at these suggested practices, I see in them the encouragement of self-centeredness. (Disagree feel free…)
Here is the thing, you have to invest in yourself or rather you have to be self-centered to be able to deliver quality to the society. Being self-centered is not wrong, the question of right and wrong is “what is the motive for being self-centered?” “What is your why for being self-centered?”  That is the question to judge the right and wrong of self-centeredness.
Embarking on self-centeredness with objectives of self-realization, self-actualization, maturity, autonomy and wisdom would result in realization and actualization of the essence of prioritizing the needs of others who are not necessarily your loved ones over your own needs, thereby giving birth to selflessness alongside eudemonic and long-lasting happiness.
With that said, I am done. 
I look forward to continuing the discussion in the comment section. 

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