I am struggling with a question – maybe you can help or maybe you have struggled with this concept too? It is the word: selfish. This word seems to always have a negative connotation. My struggle is to find a word that means “thinking of one’s self” which does not seem negative. Let me explain:
In earlier posts I suggested that the Golden Rule operates in a two-part process. My research suggests that one should focus on current situation regarding results and outcome for self, first. And then test results and outcome for the people with whom we associate. Be a little “selfish!” When I speak in this way I almost always draw raised eyebrows. Why? Ultimately, our vocabulary has identified a word that carries a negative connotation. Merriam-Webster dictionary says selfish is “having or showing concern only for yourself and not for the needs or feelings of other people.” If you go to the other side of the equation, say “altruism” our definition is “others over self.” There doesn’t appear to be anything in the middle!
I can use a short phrase: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” That is the perfect phrase to identify “loving self first!” You must get your house in order before you can help others arrange theirs. This process applies to daily decisions as well. It is impossible for us to operate in a vacuum! We must interface with others in nearly every decision made throughout our lives.
What is the best course of action for your current situation?
And then, how does that affect others? This is the step that avoids selfish results.
This two-part process must play out to create the proper cooperative environment. One must consider self first! And then immediately look out ward to check how that self-directed inward action projects outward towards others. This two step process is the Law of Reciprocity in action. Have you turned up the light or dimmed the light for yourself and others? You can improve self at the expense of others (selfish) or you can improve self and others: the Golden Rule Principle.
We are thinking beings, which changes the equation for our modus vivendi (way of life). Our level of intelligence provides an environment where we must consider outcomes to “create” the life experience we exist in. That is life’s responsibility I often speak about.
There is no easy way for me to put this in a word. The word “selfish” has a negative connotation.
What I say to you is that our spirit desires harmony, happiness and liberty. The vehicle that our spirit rides in will respond accordingly. Add in ego and we may get out of line. Block ego, the tide will raise all boats. In spirit parlance we (all humans) are one, therefore it technically is not egotistical to want to attain these things. It only becomes egotistical (selfish) if we allow ego self (the body) to reject the second part of the equation of consideration of others.
Can you help me solve the “selfish” dilemma? Is there a single word that describes this self-interested approach without it having a negative connotation? I have searched high and low in total frustration. There just doesn’t appear to be a way to describe this concept without the use of several words.
The Golden Rule says it in a single sentence, but sometimes a single word makes the point better. Chime in and help me out of my dilemma. How about the best answer will be put on list for autographed hard copy of my upcoming book, The Simple Little Rule: Rediscovering the Golden Rule.