Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to Be Selfish + Selfless

We're back!  

Sorry for the long hiatus everyone.  For all you that are our facebook fans, you'll know that Monkey ended up with strep throat two weeks ago (and most of last week as well), thus much of our focus was on healing him up.  Seal was an excellent nurse, and did much to make sure Monkey didn't die.

Anyway, today we wanted to talk about selfishness.  Our society often gives mixed messages about selfishness.  We often see stories of people who are so obsessed with something (music, art, business, technology, etc.) that they devote their lives to it and selfishly put that love over everything else.  We are told this is the epitome of the American Dream of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps and following your passion.

We also, however, often get the message that we shouldn't be selfish.  That we should think of society as a whole, that it's saintly to give to others and to give back to the community.  We praise non-profits and community giving and we are often socially rewarded for doing "selfless" things.  Also, especially in certain communities, (religious, immigrant, and/or minority) communities, emphasis can be strongly put on the community over the whole.  Pressure to "put the community over your own needs" can be strong, and it seems like the right thing to do is to be selfless.

However, we'd like to offer a different take on selfishness/selflessness.  We propose that if you live your live following your dream, it is not only the right thing to do, but it is the most selfless and selfish thing you can do.

Paradox time?  Not really.  You see, by following your dream, inherently you are being selfish.  But this is a good selfish.  You need to be listening to your Inner Artist and following that dream of yours because that is really what you were meant to do.  Your dream is unique, and by doing what you love, you're being the best person you can be, and you need to be relentlessly selfish about this - you can't put it aside for other people, whether it's your dying mother in Bolivia or your favorite teacher, or your boss, or your pastor.  

No matter who tells you otherwise, you need to live up to your full potential and follow your dream.  

At the same time that you're ploughing ahead looking after yourself, realize that by doing that, you're offering your gift to the world.  Maybe it's your unique way you look at the world (visual artists), or your pursuit of a new taste (culinary artist), or maybe it's an exploration of what the human body can do (dancers and performing artists).  Regardless, your dream is yours alone and if you can find that voice and follow it, you will reach your full, awesome potential.  

By being the best person you can be, you will undoubtably come across ways to give back.  Whether it's performing at a charity ball, or donating your art for a fundraiser, or maybe it's creating a path for an underrepresented group of people to follow in your footsteps, you will be able to give back selflessly while you selfishly pursue your own dream.  

As Chris Guillebeau puts it, you will be able to become a true key dropper.  As your dream manifests itself via your own selfish motivations and actions, make sure that when it's possible to do so, help out others along the way.  Drop keys for people to open doors.  Don't create cells by trying to shut out people asking for advice - drop keys.  

So go out there and do something for yourself.  Put yourself on that path towards following your dream, and opportunities to give back to your communities and the people who help you along will manifest themselves.  Don't hold anything back, and go after what YOU want.