If you’re unhappy with life, maybe you need to spend more time on yourself. Maybe you need to be a more selfish person*.
But aren’t we taught our whole lives that we need to be selfless in order to be a good person?
Yes, there’s no doubt that being selfless and caring for those we love should trump everything else. You should love your kids more than yourself, and you should value your friendships above material wealth. However, these things shouldn’t stop you from dedicating time and energy towards self-improvement.
Maybe you’re already in a strong place in your life. You’re financially independent, you love what you do for a living, you’re happy, and emotionally stable. And, you have just the right balance of adventure and stability in your life.
If that’s the case, then you probably don’t need to spend more time on yourself. If it’s not the case, here are a few reasons why you might need to be a more selfish person.
1. You’re Using Obligation To Your Family As An Excuse
It truly is a noble thing to toil at a job you hate in order to provide for your family — its even more commendable if you can do it with a smile on your face. The thought of a father or mother tireless working at a job they hate in order to provide a better future for their children is a testament to humanity.
If you can truly find joy in your life by providing for your family, whatever the means, then more power to you. But, if you want something more out of life than your current job, you owe it to yourself to make it happen. You owe it to your family.
“But what about my family? How will I provide for them?”
Here’s the thing: you don’t need to give up providing for your family in order to pursue your dreams, but you certainly could be using it as an excuse.
After having my first child, I experienced this myself. I soon realized that there was one time during the day that I could always spend on myself–5am. You can be a selfish person at 5am. You can work toward your dreams and focus on you at 5am. Need help becoming an early riser? The Early To Rise Experience is a great book which can help you learn to rise early in just 30 days!
2. Your Family Needs Less Than You Think
If your basic shelter needs are met, what exactly are you sacrificing for? Do your children really need a brand new car when they turn 16? Do they need all-expenses paid trips abroad after graduation? Would your grandchildren really benefit from a trust fund or a large inheritance?
Or will your kids working for their luxuries teach them important lessons in the value of money, of developing the right priorities, of appreciating what you have — instead of always wanting more?
We have an instinct to make things easier for our kids, and we want them to have the best life possible. But beyond providing food, shelter, and an education, your children don’t need as much as you think they do. And, the things they do need from you are free — unconditional love and being taught honesty and how to treat people, for example.
If you pursuing your dream means that you won’t have the disposable income to buy your child a brand new car for their 16th birthday, then so be it. Your child doesn’t luxuries as such to succeed.
3. You Can’t Help Others If You Can’t Help Yourself
Focusing on fixing the problems in your own life puts you in a position to help others, financially or otherwise. It’s a lot like when you’re on the plane during an emergency — you have to put on your own oxygen mask on before helping others, even if the other person is someone you love more than life itself. If you try to put the oxygen mask on your child before you put it on yourself, you could pass out, and you both could die.
If you’re secure financially and emotionally, it puts you in a much better position to help others without being dragged down yourself. Being a selfish person in this case, will allow you to be a more selfless person in the long run.
I advise against using any of the reasons above to justify always being selfish. By all means, give generously, be there for your friends no matter what, and put other people’s needs before your own. But just remember that you can only give what you have. So, make the most of what you have by being a selfish person when the time is appropriate, and you’ll have a lot more to give.
*It’s also entirely possible that you’re unhappy with life because you’re being too selfish. It works both ways.