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Why "Selfish" People Are Happier & Healthier

Maria Stenvinkel
July 2, 2015
Photo by Shutterstock
July 2, 2015

Selfish people treat others badly, don’t have any real friends, and are incapable of love. Right?


We’ve been programmed to feel like putting our own needs first is reprehensible, shameful, wicked. As a result, we often default to putting the wants and needs of others before our own, to the detriment of our well-being.

In the long run, prioritizing self-care is necessary in order to pursue our purpose and be generous to others. Here are six things to remember next time you find yourself feeling guilty about doing what YOU need to do.

1. It improves your most important relationship.

Being selfish is about connecting with, pleasing, entertaining, and loving yourself. When you do this, you prove to yourself that you deserve to be treated well. You wouldn’t put up with ill treatment from someone else. Reinforce that standard by being kind to yourself.

2. It creates an expectation of happiness.

Trying to please others is a recipe for frustration, stress, and disappointment. Everyone has different opinions about what you should do or how you should behave, so it’s fundamentally impossible to make everyone happy. On top of that, constantly putting others before yourself keeps you from living the life you desire.

3. It puts you in the habit of listening to your inner voice.

When you only have one person to please, decision-making becomes infinitely easier. That doesn’t mean you will always automatically know what you want. But, when you practice making choices based on your desires, you become much more in tune with your internal compass. It’s a self-sustaining cycle.

4. It frees your loved ones to care for themselves, rather than you.

Taking responsibility for your own wellbeing takes a weight off the shoulders of those who love you. You're demonstrating that others don’t need to burden themselves with your feelings, because you are self-sufficient. You’re breaking the cycle of co-dependence.

5. It better equips you to be of service.

We can’t give what we don’t have. How can we help anyone else find peace of mind if we don’t have it? When we prioritize our own growth and abundance, we give from the most sincere, powerful place possible.

6. It allows you to stop blaming others for your unhappiness.

When your primary goal is to please others (whose true needs and desires you can never actually know), you give them power over your feelings. This in turn means you hold them responsible for your unhappiness, even if you don't realize it. Not allowing other people to be stakeholders in our happiness frees you from resentment. This inevitably fosters better, healthier relationships.

Selfishness as described here is about taking care of yourself and making your own happiness a priority. It’s the foundation for a fulfilling life. If you ever find yourself feeling guilty about prioritizing you, remind yourself that your own health and happiness are necessary for you to help others.

Want to learn more? Check out my free worksheet to help you get a clue to your calling.

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Maria Stenvinkel

Maria Stenvinkel is helping people to move from fear to fearless. Download her free guide 5 quick ways to become more fearless today.