The Art of Selfishness

by : Dr. Tim Sams

Mature selfishness is the cornerstone of effectively living with passion and purpose. A commitment to self- interest is practical and efficient since you are better able to meet your needs than hope that someone else does. It is the basis for the laws of natural selection and "survival of the fittest." Unfortunately, society has given mature selfishness a bad name.

Parents are well intended when they teach their children that selfishness is bad. Infants are primitively selfish and need to learn compromise, delay of gratification, and social interest to deal effectively with others. Yet, there is a continuum from constant, immediate selfishness on one end to always putting other people before you on the other end. Children need to progress from immature selfishness to a more moderate, mature selfishness that incorporates the interest of others. However, teachers, peers, religions, movies, and books continue to send the message that selfishness is wrong; not that it must be moderated.

Mature selfishness naturally guides you to people and situations that encourage pleasure, happiness, and even hedonism. But, you have to give yourself permission to be selfish and to meet your desires for fun and relaxation. This may be difficult if you are overly socialized and base your life almost entirely on caring for others; this has been referred to as "co- dependent." Mature selfishness can also be compromised when you carry within you an overly committed Judeo- Christian work ethic. You may feel extremely guilty or anxious when you are not working out of concern that you are being lazy or that tasks are left undone.

Mature selfishness is a process of managing a hierarchy of desires including short- and long-term activities from sex and amusement parks to retirement planning. You feel passionate about desires that feel deeply personal, important, and urgent which make you intensely committed toward a course of action. Thus, selfishness is the wellspring of passion.

In Stepping Stones: 10 Steps to Seizing Passion and Purpose, ( strategies for enhancing mature selfishness are described. You need to acknowledge to yourself and others that you are committing to healthy selfishness. You may choose to discuss this with your family or friends in a way that provides them some benefit, too. You can practice selfishness by developing a Fun List; this is a list of thirty activities that are fun, whether quietly enjoyable like reading a book or rollicking pleasure like a county fair or whitewater rafting. Over time, you commit to adding items to the list that you can discover through friends, your local newspaper, the Internet, or flyers in the mail.

The Fun list becomes the structure and encouragement for "YOU" to practice fun activities including sensual ones. Sensual literally means "of the senses." Overly socialized, hard working people, especially women, may engage in very little sensual activity. Practicing sensuality, e.g., walking through the woods, attending concerts, or getting a massage can help you break through any self-imposed barriers to pleasure.

It is up to you to decide how to meet your needs and satisfy your desires; not the world that taught you that selfishness is bad and that everybody matters more than you. You are so precious; you deserve to feel happy.

To begin your journey for developing your own mature selfishness, plan to spend three hours every week doing something that only you want to do . . . alone. Then revel in that time and activity that you've chosen. Most importantly, put *your* name in your date book. Remember: start with three hours of selfish time for yourself. Can you do it? Will you do it? It might take your family, partner or co-workers a couple of weeks to get used to the new you, but they will see the positive change in your attitude, your passion, and your commitment to becoming a better you. In the end, they will benefit. So why not start this week?

Dr. Tim Sams My Sacred Journey

Copyright 2004. Dr. Tim Sams. All rights reserved.