Please Be More Selfish (For Real)

Please Be More Selfish (For Real)
What you can learn from airlines about creating a better world for yourself and everyone around you.

Being selfish is the best thing you can do for others.

Wait, what?

Popular advice tells you to serve your community, your family, your friends, and even your annoying neighbor Joe who loves to max out his subwoofer at 2:30 am.

Serving others makes you feel fulfilled and turns the world into a better place. However…

I often notice that men sacrifice themselves for others, yet still feel like they’re not doing enough.

One of my clients did everything he could for his family. He worked hard, was loyal, showed up consistently, and always tried to take a load off his wife’s back. He was a textbook husband and father – but he forgot one thing.

He didn’t show up for himself.

When he went to the gym, read a book, or relaxed with his favorite video game after a long day, he felt selfish and guilty.

This meant he suppressed his needs and burned himself out like a forgotten pot of chili on a hot stove.

When that happened, he couldn’t support his family like he wanted to anymore.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing more and more for others because:

  • Social pressure makes you feel like you have to
  • It makes you feel more helpful and worthy
  • That’s what a “real man” does

But if you want to serve the people around you – and yourself – you might have to be more selfish.

Here’s why.

How To Create A Better World For Everyone By Being More Selfish

Airplane safety briefings are as boring as counting rice grains, but one part gets me every time I hear it.

“…put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”

This makes sense – you can only help others if you’re still breathing. Selfless sacrifice won’t get you anywhere.

Life works the same way.

  • You make more cash = better lifestyle for your family
  • You get more sleep = more energy and a better mood when playing with your kids
  • You do the inner work = being more compassionate and supportive with your partner

The question is just when do you stop focusing on yourself? When do you say “I have enough, now it’s time to spend my resources on other people?”

In other words: “When do you stop slapping oxygen masks on your face and help others breathe?”

Do too little for yourself and you might pass out. Do too much and your loved ones will suffocate.

There’s no clear-cut solution because life is complex.

However, I have three simple principles (and a question) I often use to decide who needs the oxygen most right now.

Fulfill your basic needs

I’m pretty calm and collected usually, but when I get hungry…

…I turn into an absolute monster. People best get out of my way and wait until I’ve inhaled two plates of dumplings so I turn back into a normal human being.

Hunger isn’t the only thing that makes us go nuts sometimes. Lacking sleep, too much stress, and not enough time for yourself are a few more. These “basic” needs are called basic for a reason.

If they aren’t fulfilled, you can’t show up at your best – either for yourself nor others.

Like a marathon runner without water and shoes, you’ve got a severe disadvantage.

Prioritize your basic needs.

Fulfilling them is crucial for everything else.

Focus on your patterns

black and white photo of man staring at patterned architecture

Putting yourself in the focus doesn’t mean you only get the happy-feel-good stuff.

It also means you use your time to examine your patterns and how you react to things. The victim perspective of “this is happening to me” won’t help you much. Instead, take the approach of “I can decide how I respond to that.”

This means you might have to draw new boundaries or change the way you communicate with others. It often requires courage and puts the responsibility on you – but that’s what’s so freeing about it.

Nobody has power over you unless you give it to them.

Take responsibility for your happiness

There’s an old saying that “life won’t make you happy – you have to bring happiness to life.”

It’s the same with your relationships. Relying on the other person to fix your problems or fulfill all your needs is a recipe for disaster. It creates unfair expectations and pressure – even if they happen subconsciously.

But if you realize that your happiness is your responsibility, you can now be more selfish with a clear conscience.

Do the things you want to do. Go after what makes you happy. Give love to yourself.

Do it all while being mindful of the people around you – or even invite them to join you on your path.

Happy people create happy connections.

Use This Powerful Question To Keep Yourself in Check

“I can do nothing for you but work on myself. You can do nothing for me but work on yourself.” – Ram Dass

Last but not least, there’s a question I often ask when I don’t know whether I’m being selfish in a good or bad way.

“Does this serve me and turn me into a better version of myself?”

You can play video games as a coping mechanism or conscious relaxation and reward. You can have me-time to evade your family responsibilities or to recharge your batteries. You can work on yourself because you think you’re not good enough or from a place of inspiration and love.

Like with so many things in life, what you do is only one part of the equation.

The other part is what energy you’re doing it with.

So allow yourself to put yourself first – in a healthy way.

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