The Art of Being Selfish
Tea Flower Painting from Flowers of the Four Seasons: Vol. 4 Winter by Su-sing Chow.

The Meaning of Selfishness

The word selfish is thrown around a lot and almost universally with a negative context. There are many different states of being where the word is used. It is helpful to define these states of being and realize which ones are healthy and unfairly labeled as negative.

Before we start I want to talk about a couple universal truths that are often hidden from the general public. These are:

  • The nature of the Universe is infinite abundance. There is enough of everything for everybody.
  • All of us are connected and in the ultimate reality we are actually distinct parts of the same being. In other words, "we are one." The separation we experience is only a product of our minds.
Now that we've established these, let's talk about the most common state of being where the word selfish is used. Quite often people are ignorant of the above truths. Ignorance of them, often produces the opposite beliefs which are:
  • Resources are scarce and I must compete and even be willing to take from others to assure my own well being
  • We all all separate and therefore harm that I do to others in an effort to secure my own well being has no effect on me
You can see with these beliefs, it would be quite justified to conduct oneself in a way that would be called selfish. There is a collection of well known phrases that tell you that these beliefs have become common place and have been passed down from generation to generation even though they are not true. Phrases like "It's a dog eat dog world," or "money doesn't grow on trees" are just a couple examples of the phrases we parrot back and forth to each other on a daily basis, often times without even realizing.

So, what is wrong in this case, are the core beliefs. Pursuing self interest is not bad, but when you believe that self interest can only pursued at the expense of others, we get the classic behavior that is called selfish.

Falsely Accused Selfishness

Quite often someone will call you selfish when all that is happening is that you are unwilling to fulfill someone else's selfish desires to your own detriment. Some people do not have a sense of their own power. In their powerlessness, they focus in on other people as the only means to get what they want. When they encounter people who are unwilling to lie down and give them what they want, they call them selfish.

To these people, I would say:

  • You alone have the power to create in your own experience, no one else can bear the responsibility of creating your desires expect you.
  • If you are patient and focus on your own power to fulfill your desires, you will often attract another person who will assist you in fulfilling your desire as a part of their own joy. These are the situations that people refer to as "win, win situations." You should be patient and wait for these opportunities and refrain from trying to manipulate or coerce unwilling people into helping you.

Redeemed Selfishness

When you are properly focused on your own desires with the background beliefs of the infinite abundance of the Universe and the ultimate unity of all beings, you can be free to pursue your own self interest without guilt or regret. If someone labels this activity as selfish, then so be it. Nothing could be more natural or more blessed than joyfully pursuing the creation of your own life experience into the masterpiece that you wish it to be.

Once you've done this enough, your own desires will expand to include the well being of others and you will be attracted to opportunities where pursuing your joy with result in the fulfillment of the desire of others effortlessly and joyfully. This is living life to its fullest!

Tea Flower Blossom elements in isolation. Different flowers in various stages of bloom are rendered by Su-sing Chow

Tea Flower Blossom elements in isolation. Different flowers in various stages of bloom are rendered by Su-sing Chow in his book Flowers of the Four Seasons Vol. 4: Winter
Artist improvement

1 comment



Thank you for addressing this subject. I realize I must become selfish in a good way to become a dedicated artist. I always feel that I must be available for other people; even though they are independent and capable.
I must claim my time for art.

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