The Art of Selfishness
by David Seabury
I bought this book at a garage sale. It was the best 10 cents I ever spent!
Seabury argues that acts of so-called “selflessness” have caused us more suffering over the ages than anything else we do. To counter this, he urges adoption of two principles:
- The Basic Law of Being Is To Never Compromise Yourself
Compromising your own fundamental nature and needs to meet the perceived desires of others leads to all sorts of negative consequences. In particular, to do something solely out of a sense of obligation can make you resentful. The best way to “do” for others is in the spirit of joy and with a genuine desire to reach out. This concept is very difficult to grasp, because we’ve been taught that it’s noble to be selfless.
- The Magic Formula of Human Relations Is To Avoid Feeding Your Ego
Because we all want to look good and be admired, we sometimes feed our egos by doing things for others that they neither need nor want. The implicit message is that we are strong and good and the person whom we “help” is weak. Who wouldn’t resent receiving our favors when we extend them in such a way?
If you are a “giver,” this is the book to read. It will make you take a long, hard look at yourself and your motives, but once you understand these, you may well feel liberated.
Favorite insight from the book: “Someday we shall learn the part unselfishness plays in hindering us: unselfishness as advocated in our time. We shall see its relation to the flood of mental breakdowns, trace its influence in divorce. We shall know how it drives men to crime and find it a cause of suicide. At their worst, greed and envy have not wrought such havoc.”