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Do we need to be a little selfish to be happy?

I think, that to be happy we need to be a little bit selfish, because in the world we live, if we dont think of ourselves, who is going to do it? Some people think of us, but much more people wont help anyone they dont know, and the people who think of us, are they going to give us happiness? Thats why i thin we need to think by ourselves a little, because if we pass all the day thinking of someone else, when are we going to think on our own?

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    Jun 6 2014: Hello Guillem,
    Selfish: "concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself; seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others".

    Selfless: "having no concern for self".

    I suggest that it is not beneficial to be constantly, excessively, exclusively thinking about our self, nor is it beneficial to totally ignore our self, having no concern for self. In my perception and experience, it is a matter of balance. We cannot do much for others if we do not take care of ourselves, so for me, that is an important part of the question. If we are depleted, because of concentrating exclusively on giving to others, we really don't have much to give. I think it is important to keep "recharging" our self so we have more energy to give to others AND take care of our self....balance:>)
  • Jun 3 2014: No, but we should be a little wiser.
    “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”- Buddha
  • Jun 9 2014: Define "a little selfish." Esoteric nonsense like this drives the generalities behind phenomena like the Libertarians. Ensuring your own survival and well being are not selfish. They are necessary. Defining this as selfish is just moronic. Ensuring in whatever way you can, the survival and well being of your neighbor, city, state, country and planet are just as essential to you and everyone else.
  • Jun 9 2014: If I can define Happiness... this is the thing with what I feel "Secure" with. Or any in-security will bring in Unhappiness. This unhappiness will manifest in various forms like fear, anxiety, restlessness, and so on. Usually any sort of security [wealth, health] will be of material nature, and any sort of material nature will not be a permanent source of security and hence of Happiness as well. Now to get Happiness or to be Happy, we need to be "Selfish". Where I define selfish as Knowing and understanding oneself to the core. Here understanding means, getting to know self goals, self limits of desire and deservations. Thus I feel "Selfish" is the root cause of happiness when we understand what is "Selfish". !!!
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      Jun 9 2014: M Krishna,
      Does insecurity bring unhappiness? Or does unhappiness cause insecurity? Does unhappiness manifest as fear, anxiety, restlessness and so on? Or does fear, anxiety, restlessness, etc. manifest as unhappiness?
      Which comes first?

      The accepted definition for selfish is...
      "concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself; seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others".

      Do you really think/feel we "need" to be selfish as you say? We can know and understand ourselves very well without being excessively or exclusively concentrating on one's self.....can't we?
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    Jun 9 2014: As long as it won't hurt anyone. I can't see the harms of being little bit self.
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    Jun 8 2014: We don't really attain happiness by being selfish. We may experience pleasure if we gain something through selfishness, but that is not the same as happiness. It may, however, create an illusion of happiness, because people often confuse happiness and pleasure.

    Any supposed gain through selfishness comes at some expense, some loss on the part of others. How can there be any real happiness in the face of others experiencing loss?

    We are all in this together; intimately and inextricably interconnected and interdependent. If we were really aware of this truth, we would behave very differently. We would never be inclined to be selfish or hurtful. We would never be happy if we caused loss or harm to come to others. Our greatest happiness would be realized through helping one another, by serving one another, by helping make sure that everyone's needs were met, by treating others as we ourselves would like to be treated - with respect, compassion and love.

    In truth, Joy is the very essence of who we are, and any happiness we experience is a manifestation of our inner Joy that is called forth from within by some experience in life that causes us to become aware of our innate Joyfulness. Our deepest and most intense experiences of Joyfulness are inspired when we join together and participate with others in calling forth our awareness of the truth that we are all in this together. One of the very best ways to do this is to be of service to others.

    Contrary to commonly held views, it actually is possible to be Joyful/happy all the time, regardless of circumstances and situations. This is because real Joy is not dependent upon impermanent externalities; it is only dependent upon one's inner awareness, and it is therefore always available to be experienced.

    We only feel unhappy when we block our inner awareness of who and what we really are. That blockage results from our attachments to impermanent things and experiences external to our self - we give them power over us.
  • Jun 7 2014: Hi Dear Guillem,I never believe if one who can't take care of him(her)self well,now can she or he go to take care of others?Recently years it is one of the big awareness I got:the more i am conscious of it the more I know how important it is.Because you know I am a teacher.Being a teacher,we all wish our students can do better.But the most I am conscious now:If I am not happy,no matter how much I wish my students be happy,that's totally empty without heart....
  • Jun 7 2014: Just like Robert said, you should define what being selfish mean... because I think we can mix selfishness with dedication and sympathy.
    Indeed I'm a person who really love help people, doing things correctly and completely, we can say that sometimes I'm a dedicated person to my surroundings but I really really like, and I've need of that, be alone. It is important to have moments when you help people, and others when you juste have to say "no, I'm not available anymore" and being alone without be there for others. When you have this privileged moment with yourself, you have the right not to respond to people's requests because if you do that, you will not want to ever help people with pleasure, and that would be too bad! You have the right to be selfish sometimes, during these privileged moments but not all the time. So, to be happy, I would say that we need a little bit of these two situations.
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    Jun 6 2014: the thing is happiness comes when things all favour to us even its good or bad, and a person with good intention will feel happy by helping others and the thing who don't will be happy by making themselves happy.Its not the factor to be selfish to be happy. thanks for this opportunity to answer such a beautiful question.

    thank you
  • Jun 4 2014: There is no right or wrong answer to this question as causes of happiness may vary from person to person. For me, this is a case in which too much of a good thing is not good. If one is utterly unselfish then he never spends a waking moment doing things to benefit himself. Examples: getting an education, keeping good hygiene. Both of those things bring me happiness.
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    Jun 4 2014: I think our happiness is derived from internal and external satisfactions. We all have expectations of ourselves and if they are not filled, it is hard to be happy. Likewise, we have expectations of others and if they are not filled, it is hard to be happy.
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    Jun 4 2014: Guillim, Lets define being selfish ... to deprive others (family) of needs to satisfy your wants .. not needs. That would be irresponsible, self centered, selfish.

    However, to treat my wife to a dinner out ... a beauty shop appointment ... a manicure ... as a reward for her hard work .... is a investiment in a relationship .. we always paid bills first .. including food.

    I think it is importent to invest in our mental and physical health ... but to me that is not selfish.
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    Jun 3 2014: Taking care of yourself and being responsible for your own choices and actions is, as Mr. Henline puts it, being wise.

    "Dan Gilbert discusses This Emotional Life, a PBS program he hosted. Gilbert offers an answer to the question “what causes happiness?” He points out that there is a set point for happiness, despite good or bad experiences. Humans are good at adjusting to their circumstances, and no matter what they experience they are likely to have a general level of happiness, independent of their experiences.

    Gilbert suggests that we should be more skeptical when considering what causes happiness. Much of what we think we know about happiness is wrong.

    In “This Emotional Life,” Dan Gilbert says there are three key findings on the science of happiness:
    1.we can’t be happy alone
    2.we can’t be happy all the time
    3.we can be happier than we are currently

    Humans are social animals; we need to socialize. The biggest predictor of happiness is the extent of our social relationships. A primary reason that our brains have evolved in the manner they have is so we can be social.

    Gilbert says “friendless people are not happy.” It is not realistic, nor is it desirable to be happy all the time. Negative emotions are natural. When considering negative emotions, what is important is learning to appropriately regulate those potentially damaging thoughts. Being happy all the time implies epistemic irrationality (holding beliefs that are not commensurate with available evidence).

    With a few minor changes you can probably be happier than you currently are. This adjustment doesn’t require much effort, and may be easier than you think."
  • Jun 3 2014: Guillem

    For some people happiness is obtained by doing for others through many different avenues. For these people, this is a measurement of their own self worth. They are fulfilling their own needs and for the most part the people or causes that they are 'helping' are insignificant. It is their ego and self image that they are building. They, essentially, are achieving a sense of happiness through the misfortune of others.
    in some cases others help others out of a sense of promoted guilt. That may be 'white privilege', peer, school or work pressure to give back. In many cases, as we are now seeing, in many schools,government agencies and companies volunteerism is mandated for graduation, promotion and even hiring. Not a good thing, as it creates a beggar or victim class.
    Sometimes people help people just because they can. For these people there is no acknowledgement of their need, no pat on the back. This is the good stuff.
    We all only have one life and it is my firm conviction that ones first responsibility is to himself, to that one life. Your well being and happiness is your primary job and if you do it right happiness is yours and every one around you benefits. Happiness cannot be achieved through others, it has to come from you. Just think if everyone believed that to be true how many fewer people there would be to help. There would only be those who truly needed help and those who are professional victims would cease to exist as there would be a societal expectation for them to help themselves..