We’re taught to think very badly of selfishness but in truth, completely obliterating ourselves and living only for others and their wants (as it can be so easy to do) may be a fast route to depression and inner numbness. We may need – on occasion – to do something that sounds rather surprising: relearn how to be beautifully and intelligently selfish.
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“From a young age, we are taught that one of the greatest risks to our integrity and flourishing is our own selfishness. We must – wherever possible – learn to think more of other people, keep in mind how often we fail to see things from their point of view, and be aware of the small and large ways in which we disadvantage and ignore collective interests. Being good means, at its most basic, putting other people more squarely at the center of our lives.
But for some of us, the problem isn’t so much that we are heedless to this advice, rather that we take it far too closely and remorselessly to heart. So mindful are we of the risks of selfishness, we run into an opposite danger: an abnegation of the self, a modesty that borders on self-erasure, an automatic impulse to give everything over to competing parties, a shyness about pressing oneself forward and a manic inability to say ‘no’ or cause the slightest frustration to others.”
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