Happiness requires selfishness

Happiness is a selfish pursuit. My advice: celebrate this! Recently I was working with a client and we were discussing the differences between her and her ex-husband. The differences were enormous.


She is a highly passionate lady. Joyful, sensual and open to immersing herself in as many life experiences as possible. He is a real pessimist. Strict, cautious and weary of others. During their 25 years of marriage, she did everything she could to please him and make him happy. Nothing worked! At the same time, she became more and more depressed as the years went by.


At some point she made a decision. She decided that she could no longer be with him if she wants to be happy. This would have been the most selfish moment in her life and to her credit, she’s never looked back. 


Happiness is a choice. In fact, choosing to get your needs met is the only way to be happy. And yes, it requires a healthy self focus. Only when you take care of yourself first, will you in the long term be able to have the energy to help others.


Happiness requires you to be selfish first. Not necessarily all the time, but most of the time.


But what about altruism I hear you ask? Don’t happy people often help others with no expectation of reward? The answer is, it depends on what kind of reward you’re talking about. Happy people often help others with no expectation of an external reward, but nobody ever genuinely helps another person unless they feel an internal reward.


There are only two reasons why you would ever help someone. One is because you somehow feel obliged. Sometimes we help even when we really don’t want to. However helping others because you feel you have to on a consistent basis will reduce your happiness. The other reason, is because you genuinely want to and enjoy doing it. It feels good! Better yet, emotions are contagious and can easily be intensified when others are feeling the same way!


Therefore when you help someone to feel better, you feel better, and then they feed off your increasing positive emotion, and then you feed off their increasing positive emotion, and the experience for both people is amplified and continues to grow. How selfish is that? But then, who cares if everyone is winning.


You have the right to be happy. Don’t let anybody interfere with your right to have your needs met. The more selfish you are, the more you have to give to others. Everybody can win when you stand up and claim happiness.


My Tips On How To Selfishly Claim Your Right To Be Happy

1. When helping someone, ask yourself what is driving your behavior. Do you actually want to help them, or do you feel obliged? If it is from a place of obligation, how often do you feel this way. If the answer is more than you think is fair, you need to change what you are doing or how often you are doing it.

2. Increase the amount of activities that you enjoy. Ask yourself, what makes me happy? Schedule in time (even if it is only a half an hour a week to begin with) to claim your right to enjoy getting your needs met.

3. Celebrate selfishness. Ask yourself, how can I get my needs met and enjoy helping others on my terms? You will naturally become happier and others will be infected by your greater happiness. This will lead to more intense positive experiences for everyone.


Is happiness primarily selfish? What do you think?


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