Selfishness is the Key to Success

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A Handsome Young Man Admiring His Reflection in a Water Stream

You’re a nice guy.

Your friends can borrow your bike anytime they wished.

You help your cousin complete his college assignment (even if you don’t get sleep that night).

Rahul’s weekly report was unfinished, and he had a date on that evening. Guess what, you stayed late to finish his work – so he could enjoy a romantic evening.

You’re always eager to help your classmates, friends and coworkers. And why shouldn’t you? After all, helping others is a good thing, right?

And guess what, you feel good about it.

But.

Quite often.

You have this undercurrent of confusion and restlessness, you know.

At times, you scratch your chin (or head) and wonder why your good karma is not rewarding you?

Why aren’t you as successful as you’d like to?

“Maybe it’s just luck. Not everybody is destined to have grand success.” You say to yourself.

Yeah, maybe.

But your heart refuses to believe that.

Inside, you know something is off.

What could it be?

Maybe, just maybe, you’re missing a link that’s crucial to success.

Maybe you’re putting yourself last – at the end of the queue.

Maybe you’re rejecting Selfishness!

Why Selfishness is the Key to Success

“Selfishness? OMG!? Do I need to be selfish to get successful?”

Why not?

“No. I can’t do that because it’s wrong to be selfish.”

Don’t you want to get successful?

“I do…but.”

But what?

“But it’s still wrong to be selfish.”

Who told you that?

“Well, I just know.”

Hmm. OK, let me share with you what I know. Because just like you, I also used to believe it’s wrong to be selfish until I realised I was just being dumb.

Now, before we discuss why it’s so damn important to be selfish, let me explain what selfishness (and being selfish) is:

Being selfish means you take care of your needs FIRST. That’s it!

Selfishness helps you become independent and resourceful so you can help others.

A selfish person takes good care of his body, mind, and soul.

And as a result, he stays balanced, calm and full of energy. He nurtures his life so he can share the best with others.

“But why would a ‘selfish’ person share?” Isn’t that counterintuitive?

No.

He shares because sharing enriches life – it makes life worth living.

How Selfishness Lead to Success

Don’t give up opportunities so others can get ahead of you.

Remember: Letting others exploit you is as much of sin as it is to exploit others.

The society makes you believe that it’s wrong to be selfish.

Guess what; it’s a lie. In fact, the truth is exactly the opposite.

When you pursue your dreams, you ultimately end up benefiting others. How can you not? You are a part of this vast orchestra called The World. For example:

  • When you build a business empire, you end up creating countless jobs for others.
  • When you give up smoking, you make the air a little cleaner than it was before.
  • When you meditate, you start radiating love, which inspires others to be loving and kind.

Why Do Selfish People Get Criticised?

Okay, let me give you a little context here.

In Hindi, selfish means “स्वार्थी ” (swarthy), – A person who tries to find ‘meaning’ in his own life before searching it in the world.

Now you tell me what is wrong with that? If you won’t find meaning in your own life, whose life you’d find it in, your neighbour’s?

Make sense?

Back to “Why selfish people get criticised?”

People criticise selfishness because we’ve forgotten its real meaning.

Generally, we say, “Oh! he is such a mean and selfish person.”

Ah..! Not quite.

You can either be mean OR selfish. You cannot be both together.

A mean person has no concern or regards for others. He wants to exploit people to get everything, by hook or by crook.

On the other hand, a selfish person puts himself first without exploiting or taking advantage of others. And at the same time, he also respects others’ right to be selfish.

So, this is what happened: being selfish has been mistaken for being mean, for centuries.

Just as ‘being aggressive’ and ‘being assertive’ are not the same, being mean’ is also not equal to ‘being selfish.’

But I understand your problem.

And the problem is that you’re not sure about this whole “selfishness” thing, right?

You know you need to be selfish to achieve success but then, those ‘Selfishness is wrong’ sermons comes in.

When you’re not sure if being selfish is okay, you feel uneasy putting yourself first. (You start believing that you’re doing something wrong).

I know it’s quite natural to feel guilty about being selfish, at least in a country like India.

In our country, people are fond of songs like ‘Apne liye jiye toh kya jiye tu jee aye dil zamane ke liye.’ We consider sacrificing one’s pleasures for others sacred.

But the truth is:

It is entirely natural to be selfish unless you are conditioned otherwise.

And.

You can only be kind to others if you are kind to yourself first.

Why Become Selfish?

Because it’s idiotic not to be.

Remember: The very first person you need to take care of is you.

You need to take care of your thoughts, the words you speak and the actions you take, literally everything.

But I know why you’re resisting selfishness. It’s a grand conspiracy – a conspiracy to make you feel guilty (whenever you think of putting yourself first).

You’re made to believe that this is how things work:

The World

Country

Society

Family

Self

It’s bullshit!

Consider this, instead:

Self

Family

Society

Country

The World

Does that sound rude?

Well, so be it. Your world exists because you exist.

What is ‘The World’, Anyway?

Let’s assume 50 people are sitting in a hall. If you ask them (one by one) who of them is the world, do you think anybody would say yes?

No, nobody will.

You see, the world is a community of many different individuals. No particular person can call himself ‘the world’, and yet everybody is (in their own sense) ‘the world’.

So, if you’d like to change the world, how about starting with yourself?

When you work on yourself, you can’t help but end up making it better than you had found it.

Just think:

  • Can you love others if you don’t like even yourself?
  • How can you honestly help others prosper if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck?
  • How can you help others succeed while you’re still struggling to achieve success?

Avoiding Selfishness? Be Ready for Failure

My father believed it was okay to put himself and his family last.

Selfishness was not his cup of tea and so he ‘sacrificed’ his life and potential success for others.

I remember accompanying him to one of my aunts’ marriage function when I was only 10. I wanted to play with other kids, which you would agree, was quite natural.

But my father scolded me “Avdhesh, why have you come here in the first place – to give a helping hand or waste time playing?”

The people he wanted me to give a ‘helping hand ‘ were the ones making our lives miserable. They were doing everything they could like, black magic, gossiping, backstabbing and what not.

I feel bad whenever I remember that incident.

It’s not just a question of being selfish but also of self-respect.

And you don’t owe a helping hand to the people who mean harm to you.

The practice of lending a ‘helping hand’ cost my father the success he could have achieved (had he been a little selfish).

Possible Reasons Why You Are Against Selfishness

  • It’s possible you were conditioned against selfishness so people could use you without much difficulty.
  • Your parents sacrificed their lives for others, and it made you believe that it’s a virtue to be a “doormat.”
  • There’s a deep hatred towards self in your unconscious, and you feel unworthy of success.

Benefits of Being Selfish: Here Are 3 For a Start (Apart from Success)

  • You get to know your ‘real’ feelings and emotions.
  • Saying ‘no’ to unimportant things (without feeling guilty) gets more comfortable with each passing day.
  • The capability to help your family, society, country, and the world increases, and this time for real.

Accepting that the virtue of selfishness is the key to success can be hard initially. But the moment you realise it is perfectly okay to be selfish, (and you should strive to be more selfish in your day to day life), you shall be on the right track.

People do not become selfish when they succeed, they succeed because they were selfish

You can choose to believe selfishness is evil, but it will do you no good – it never does. The sooner you realise it is the key to success, the better.

So, are you ready to say, “Yes, I am Selfish?”

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My name is Avdhesh Tondak - a blogger and voice actor. I write personal development articles for students, professionals, and seekers. You can subscribe to my blog here.