My mother-in-law, as most mothers-in-law go can be quite infuriating at times. The times when I want to scream at her are the times when she places prime importance to her sons and grandchildren. That woman can be selfish.
Well, so was my mother. When it came to protecting the interests of me and my brother, she cared two pence about other people, including her husband, who happened to be our father.
Both the women were selfish and rightly so. As a mother, they would obviously want their own children to shine, to succeed, and to survive. After all, that is the way nature has built us – to survive.
The primary reason to give birth is to ensure the continuity of the species. Love or the lack of it, is a side-effect of this biological occurrence.
So, what does it mean to be selfish?
Among the numerous synonyms that the English language provides for the word selfish, the one commonality among every synonym is the idea of the “self.” The concept of selfishness is to think and do for ourselves.
And that is so wrong!!!
But unless we think for ourselves, how would we work out what we want to do with our future?!
The visualization of a healthy career, family and home begins with the idea of “I and Mine.” Unless we think me, we would never do the best for ourselves.
Besides, nature makes a time for selfishness, for us to withdraw into self-introspection and self-awareness. This time is called teenage. The hormonal disturbances cause the child to grow away from the outside world and into themselves. This is also why we call teenagers selfish. They have every right to be selfish because, hello! they are only trying to figure themselves out.
If we miss out the teenage stage, nature also gives us a second chance to be selfish. It is called the weird middle-ages, also my own awakening st-age. And obviously so, because my best performance came during my teenage years, a fact which I conveniently overlooked in my desperate attempt to fit into the rest of the world.
That is just one case
One of my friends shook off her high-flying accountant job to fight for human rights. Another quit her comfortable office space to care for her son and pursue everything she has always wanted to do. Both my friends have always been good at what they are doing currently. Which automatically means that they missed their chances to get on with their acts during their young adulthood.
The three of us failed as young adults to listen to ourselves because we were busy listening to the rest of the world’s – our parents, friends and the community – thoughts on who we should be and what we should do.
And all because…
Of the idea attached to selfishness!
Bingo! We miss our chance to become who we want to be because we think that who we want to be does not fit in the world’s idea of who we need to be. All of this happens because right through our childhood we listen to the world, and we accept the ideas of the world. In other words, we succumb to “mass perceptions” of right and wrong. And according to the mass, being selfish is wrong.
But if we only think for ourselves…
I constantly accuse my husband of only thinking for himself and his family. At the same time, I realize that if I am able to sit at home comfortably typing away these words, I owe it to my husband’s selfishness.
My husband’s selfishness is the reason why we are able to afford our child’s tuition and activity fees. His selfishness is also the reason behind his own achievement in his career. As it is how his team stands recognized in his workplace as being the best in the country. His selfishness is the reason why he is able to drive others to deliver their best. My husband has built himself, his family and a community around his selfishness.
You see what is happening here. There is a connection between different people’s selfishness. When we all begin to think better for ourselves, want better for ourselves, we also begin to spill over our selfishness. We automatically want the best for our family, and since the family should live in the best community, we are also led towards doing the best for our community. All this happens because of our selfishness.
Selfishness is the act of growing from within oneself and into the world.
Don’t tell me this is how nature grows
Imagine a tree growing by itself in a forest. It wouldn’t take long before it perishes to the onslaught of a strong wind. But when several trees grow together in a forest, so they can survive the onslaught of seasonal changes. They grow together, and yet, each one has its own place, and its own way to grow. While it is together that they make up the ecosystem, the trees of the forests are together as one big selfish community.
And this is nature’s way
The greatest people, right from the Buddha to Gandhi, have grown from within themselves. They have performed for the world only what they wanted for themselves. Before he wanted peace for the world, the Buddha wanted it only for himself. And before he wanted freedom for the country, Gandhi wanted it first for himself. When we want well for ourselves, we automatically end up doing the best for others too.
It is only when I tap into “me,” that I will be led towards you, and in the right way.
Selfishness is nature’s way of growing from within.
Here’s to listening to ourselves!