TED Conversations

Dyed All Hues

Thinker and Experimenter,

TEDCRED 30+

This conversation is closed.

What does it mean to practice enlightened selfishness? List at least three qualities of such a person.

I was recently introduced this idea within this comment.

http://www.ted.com/conversations/15910/how_can_overly_empathetic_symp.html?c=594194

What does the term Enlightened Selfishness mean?

List at least three traits of such a person.

Share:

Closing Statement from Dyed All Hues

Thank you for all the insightful comments. I highly appreciate all of your participation. I look forward to the future where these types of ideas are commonplace in conversations and life. =)

  • thumb
    Feb 1 2013: I'm not very comfortable with any compound word that has 'selfishness' in it. But it is good to plant a good seed and water it, and to expect a good harvest from such. That is the order of nature.

    So, when we see our acts as seeds that would certainly bring an harvest, we are wise if we sow good seeds, not just for the sake of others, but for our own sake. Like Mary M has wisely said, in this case 'everybody wins'.
    THere is a big difference between seeking to win at all costs and seeking to win without selfishness.
  • W T 100+

    • +3
    Feb 1 2013: Hey Derek!

    I remember reading that comment on your previous conversation and thinking how great it was.
    But I had never heard of the term "enlightened selfishness".....which actually is termed "enlightened self-interest"

    Look at what I found:

    Enlightened self-interest refers to the understanding and trust that what a person does to enhance another’s quality of life enhances one’s own quality of life to a similar degree.

    Acts of enlightened self-interest serve the well-being of others as well.

    Enlightened self-interest means that everybody wins.

    The recognition that being committed to another’s well being is personally fulfilling is the basis of a cycle of mutual generosity that creates an ongoing, self-reinforcing loop that deepens and becomes more enriching over time.

    Those who practice elightened self interes don't "give to get" (like your link comment shows), but rather they give their care and support to others from a well that is already full.

    They generally don’t see themselves as being especially considerate or generous, but rather as simply acting in response to a perceived need or desire in another.

    It is no wonder that Jesus himself said "There is more happiness in giving, than in receiving".
    When we give of ourself unselfishly expecting nothing in return, we walk away happier than the person we helped.

    My three traits would be: loving, approachable, hospitable
    • thumb
      Feb 2 2013: Hi Mary!

      Thank you for the well articulated comment! I enjoy your personal answers, as opposed to impersonal information on the world wide web. I feel like I can say "you get me" sometimes. =)

      I am unclear though, how does my link comment show that it isn't practicing enlightened self-interest, and specifically the point about "give to get"?
      • W T 100+

        • +1
        Feb 2 2013: Hey...thanks.

        I found the definition of "enlightened self-interest" (enlightened selfishness) by going through the web. I read several sites, and condensed.

        I apologize that the way I commented in one of the sentences is not too clear....I knew that would come back and bite me.....let me rephrase.

        Here is what I said:

        "Those who practice elightened self interest don't "give to get" (like your link comment shows), but rather they give their care and support to others from a well that is already full".

        I was trying to show you that David Grammer's answer in your link, where he states that people who act with enlightened selfishness don't "give to get", IS IN HARMONY with the definition I found.

        David gave a very good definition of enlightened self-interest.....that is what I was trying to communicate.....but I guess my wording and choice of punctuation made it seem like the opposite......don't tell anyone I am a teacher :o LOL

        Anyways, here is a great example of enlighted self-interest (and Derek, this is the coined phrase used by psychologists).

        Suppose a couple is having marital problems (you know, the problems all couples have, where they stop trying to work things out and just want to give up). They have been married for 20 years with three kids. It is so easy to separate, or get a divorce, or squabble all the time around the kids. But couples who practice enlightened self-interest will look for ways to work things out. They are thinking about their children, and the kind of message they are sending to them. They look for ways to forgive, to communicate better, to show their children that teamwork is important in a marriage, and that you just don't give up on relationships out of selfishness for your own desires.
        Enlightened self-interest is used alot in closed knit families, where all for one and one for all is practiced.

        Of course, I am not referring to marriages where there is violence or constant infidelity (that's another topic)
        • thumb
          Feb 7 2013: Ahh...that makes more sense. Thank you for the clarification. I promise I won't tell...scouts honor. ;)
  • thumb

    Gail . 50+

    • +2
    Feb 1 2013: In MY lexicon, I use the word SELF-ish, as opposed to selfishness - which to me means something very different. For me, the term 'enlightened selfishness" is an oxymoron. Mary had a better term when she used "enlightened self-interest". She kind of hit on a difficult to explain concept when she said that those with enlightened self-interest do not "give to get" (as in at Christmas gifting tiime).

    One who is SELF-ish knows that we are one, and that the separations between us are a perceptual illusion, so as I do for you (or to you) I will receive in like manner. It is here where I think that I may disagree with other posters so far. One who is SELF-ish does not act to fulfill another's PERCEIVED needs or wants. One who is SELF-ish acts according to what will improve his/her life in a more indirect way.

    I cannot treat others with respect if I am not able to respect myself, any more than I can love another if I do not love myself. So by looking at one that someone else might think of as a moral inferior, and I see that person's innate perfection, and relate to the person in that way, my own life is significantly improved because I have raised up the self-esteem of the person who was being derided.

    As I said, it's hard to articulate.

    One who is enlightened doesn't live his/her life FOR others. As ALL are one, there is only self, and self should always be treated well.

    Attributes:
    Confidence even in silence
    Never judges another except as worthy or righteous.
    Calmness - does not CHOOSE to experience fear.

    It stems from the awareness that all perceptions are really projections.


    PS: The given link is expired
    • W T 100+

      • 0
      Feb 1 2013: Here is the copy/paste information from the link....I did not have trouble accessing it.

      "Empathy and sympathy lead to bitterness only if you have a subconscious ulterior motive and expectations of the outcome of your actions. If the act is truly selfless, then there is no disappointment. It's also necessary to understand that saying "No" in a loud, clear voice is often the greatest act of kindness that you can offer. We often acquiesce to gain approval, not because we're "nice guys". I suggest trying enlightened selfishness because the only other alternative is unenlightened selfishness." David Grammer TEDster
    • thumb
      Feb 2 2013: Yes, I'm aware that the link is expired, but the content is still helpful in explaining my new inquiry in this thread.

      At least I think that is what you meant by "The given link is expired".

      Back to your comment TED Lover; I found your comment fascinating and I find that improving one's self is part of helping others. There are some aspects where we have to seem selfish, but act out of enlightened "SELF-ish"ness. For instance, lying for a close friend so they won't get in trouble seems like it will help them, but I feel that they could benefit from my choosing not to participate in their act, and that is acting out of not another's wants or needs, but one's own needs, though in that place and time it is a win-lose, but in the distance I think it is a win-win, or am I wrong?

      I think giving someone's perceived wants and needs is under another form of enlightenment because there are probably many forms of enlightenments that people can practice, at least in my perception.
  • thumb
    Feb 1 2013: Enlightened self interest / selfishness is to acknowledge that if the group does well you will benefit from it. Unlike greed where you only wish that you do well. In all of these related terms the bottem line is greed .. some shared some not. Me me, me, ......... ME.
  • thumb

    . . 100+

    • +1
    Feb 5 2013: 1. Truthful
    2. Thoughtful
    3. Kind

    3 traits of a person who practices "enlightened self-interest.


    Hi Derek;

    Since I believe in fair trade: it would only be fair that I contribute to your question first:)
    I feel when we focus all our energy and drive, 100% of our attention and effort, to solve a problem for someone else. So in practice, we forget ourselves completely, and only think of that person's problem. This does not mean that we neglect ourselves, or we don't feed ourselves, for example. (Neglecting self care is a disservice to anyone else we hope to be useful to or help). What it means is, after fortifying ourself ( with education and skill and with daily food and sleep, etc.), we put our energy into solving a problem for someone else. What this does in return - is that it benefits that person. And automatically the benefit will turn around and fulfill our needs as well. So this is how acting out of our higher (enlightened) state comes back and benefit us after it benefitted / uplifted someone else. Again, my understanding is that, the only way of getting into that "enlightened state" is when we combine our mind and heart in every thought, every word, every action. Instead of using our rational brain.

    I have come here with a purely enlightened self interest, to invite you into shaping an idea at: http://www.ted.com/conversations/16153/love_and_be_loved_111.html?c=598608. So please come on over and join us:-)
  • thumb
    Feb 1 2013: I believe I practice enlightened selfishness frequently. For example, if I'm walking on the street and see a big piece of trash I pick it up and deposit it in the nearest trashcan. I do this for my own benefit, because I don't like to look at the trash, but I think it benefits everyone else who passes that way.

    The loading dock at the supermarket across the street became quite noisy at 5 A.M. for a while. After many talks with employees at the supermarket inititated by me, they were able to quiet down. This was done for selfish reasons, because I didn't like the noise, but it benefited everyone else in the neighborhood as well. It probably benefited the supermarket because it created more goodwill toward them on the block.
  • thumb
    Feb 2 2013: Enlightened selfishness is a act of maximizing one’s own pleasure by seeking to help others.

    Traits of such a person:
    1.Altru-hedonistic tendency
    2.Sympathy
    3. Alacrity to help