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guest post: 3 reasons you should be selfish

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Today's guest post was written by 
Oleg Mokhov, creator and author of the site, Lifebeat. When Oleg came to me with some ideas for guest posts (all of which were pretty brilliant), this one really stuck out to me. I've always been interested in the idea of selfishness and how it doesn't necessary have to be a negative thing. When I first undertook writing Positively Present and seeking to have more happiness in my life, it seemed selfish. It seemed self-absorbed. However, the more I worked on my happiness, the happier I became. The more happy and positive I became, the more I was able to transfer the positive attitude to other things -- my work, the blog, my family, my relationships. Making myself better helped to make other things better. So when Oleg suggested this idea for a post -- looking at the positive aspects of being selfish -- I was more than happy to feature this one on Positively Present. This post gave me a lot to think about (as does the rest of the work on Oleg's site) and I hope you enjoy it! 

Growing up, your parents told you that you shouldn't be selfish. That you should always put others first. Guess what? Your parents were wrong. You should be selfish, and there are 3 reasons why it's actually a positive thing. 

3 Reasons You Should Be Selfish

  1. Increases positive energy for you and others. Doing what you want makes you feel good. Which increases your happiness. Which increases your positive energy. Which increases happiness and positive energy of those of around you.

  2. Helps yourself and others. Selfishness isn't all-or-nothing; you can do what satisfies you and help others out. If you love creating something and do it for your enjoyment, people can still get value from your stuff when you release it. Your main objective is to satisfy yourself, but the by-product is content you created that others benefit from too. This applies to charitable work too: you can choose to help someone out because it makes you feel good afterwards, but that person still receives the benefit.

  3. You do your best work. When you make yourself happy, you're the most passionate and enthusiastic in whatever you do. When you have fun creating, chances are people will have fun consuming. You make your best stuff, people get more value from it as a result (and you thus sell more). Compare this to doing something you think you "should" do -- a half-assed attempt isn't interesting or valuable for most people. So when you put yourself first, others get more benefit than if you were to put them first but not enjoy what you do as much.

Take this article. I wrote it because I loved doing it. It was like a journal for me -- synthesizing my thoughts. And because I get excited writing about a topic like this, I give it my all, which results in a higher-quality article. So I put myself first. But you get the benefit of reading valuable content. If I wasn't into the topic and solely tried to write solutions to somebody's problem, then the quality of the article would've suffered: boring, mediocre, unremarkable. And you wouldn't have gotten as high-quality and valuable content. 

The same goes for this article being a guest post. The main reason I'm doing a guest post for Dani here at Positively Present is because I want exposure. To get in front of you and have you hopefully click my link at the end of this article. And since I want my first impression to be fantastic, I tried hard to make this article as great as possible. So I put myself first. But Dani gets the benefit of having quality content to add to her awesome site, and you benefit by having a valuable article to read. If I had to do this guest post without any benefit to me, I wouldn't have tried as hard to write a high-quality article. Dani would've gotten something mediocre, and you wouldn't have gotten as much value. Be selfish. Put yourself first. Both you and others will benefit more from it. And besides, you never liked listening to your parents anyway, did you?

 What do you really love to do?
Can you focus on doing it because you want to while also giving value to others
 (through your content, service, product, etc.)?

Oleg Mokhov, a writer/musician/adventurer, writes unconventional life-maximizing ideas for remarkable people and makes energizing electronic dance music for melody-lovers on his site Lifebeat. Subscribe now and follow him on Twitter. Oleg Mokhov is also the world's most mobile electronic musician and co-founder of the premium royalty free music store Soundtrackster. 


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Okay...I'll bite.
I really love to make personal adornments for my clients that are so uniquely them, that it doesn't even look like me. So by doing what I love, I am able to help others out. I have a passion for finding inspiration everywhere and bringing that out for others. My blog has allowed me to connect with people all over the world.
And your selfish quest for exposure, Oleg? It worked. I am a new follower.
Enjoy the day! Erin

I agree with you. If we were all a little more selfish, we'd be able to bring more to the world and to the lives of others. Great insight.


Thanks for the post.

While standard thinking is to view selfishness in a negative light, I agree with what you wrote in the post.

A friend of mine said that we should replace the word "selfish" with "self care." When you look at it this way, selfishness obviously turns into something much more positive.

I look at this whole issue from an Ayn Rand perspective of you have a moral obligation to pursue your own happiness. And I agree that the whole world ends up benifitting a lot more when you do.

Also, when you think about it, your thoughts on being selfish are in line with the saying "the easiest way to be unhappy is to try to make everybody else happy."

Hey Oleg,

I like it. By doing what makes us happy, we radiate with joy and naturally affect others around us in a positive fashion. It's a win-win.

I agree that it's important to take time for yourself, to pursue a passion or hobby that you find fulfilling, and to aim for happiness each day. I just wish we didn't view that as being selfish - I really like the term "self care", from the post above. From now on, that's how I'm going to view it - taking a moment to care for me, so that I can be a better person for my family and friends.

Great post. It's taken me three decades to un-learn the lesson from my childhood that putting myself first is a bad quality in a person. Finally figuring that out has been truly life changing.

Erin - I'm really glad to see you liked Oleg's post! Thanks for sharing your insights on how doing what you love has impacted your life.

Liz - Like you, I really agree with Oleg's post. Being selfish sounds like a negative thing, but it's really actually very important.

Greg - Great comment! I love the term "self care"; it really seems to fit well and doesn't have the same negative connotations as "selfish." I'm also really glad you brought up Ayn Rand too... Really great connection to what Oleg's written here.

Ben - You're right -- it's definitely win-win. Thanks for the comment!

Topi - It's really important that we take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others. Putting ourselves first makes us better for others!

Meg - Like you, it's taken me a long time to un-learn the idea that being selfish is a bad thing. While it may not seem like it, it really can be positive to focus on yourself.

That is a beautiful insight ... "you do your best work." So true!

J.D. - I'm glad you liked Oleg's post. I also really like that idea that you do your own best work. It really IS so true!

Great post!

Sometimes you do have to be a little selfish. Some selfishness is healthy for us if we allow a great balance between selfishness and giving to others.

Thanks for such great information!

I agree with being selfish. Sometimes people can mistake healthy selfishness as selflessness.

I feel being selfish is about working on yourself, loving yourself and rewarding yourself before you can offload those gifts onto others.

Great article, thanks for sharing.

Jarrod - Thank you for your comment on Oleg's post. It really is healthy to selfish on some levels (though most people don't want to admit that!).

Marvin - I really agree with your comment that selfishness is "about working on yourself, loving yourself and rewarding yourself before you can offload those gifts onto others." So true!

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