Selfishness vs. selflessness

 

I wonder what motivates people to think only of themselves? The selfish person is by definition someone who acts according to ones own interests and needs without regard for others. It must be a very sad soul to go through life only ever giving thought to one’s own little world. Sometimes we give excuses of being too busy or too tired but in fact what we are saying to the world is

“I am more important than you”.

On occasion we know of situations that need help but we are overwhelmed and either do not know what to do or we think that someone else will do it.

The selfishness must be discovered and understood before it can be removed. It is powerless to remove itself, neither will it pass away of itself. Darkness ceases only when light is introduced; so ignorance can only be dispersed by Knowledge; selfishness by Love.

James Allen

Those who do not hate their own selfishness and regard themselves as more important than the rest of the world are blind because the truth lies elsewhere

Blaise Pascal

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There is a short story from 1843 called The Bosom-serpent by Nathaniel Hawthorne .

egotism-or-bosom-serpent-nathaniel-hawthorne-paperback-cover-art

[*]The plot:

George Herkimer visits his old acquaintance, Roderick Elliston, who is rumoured to have a snake residing in his bosom. Herkimer says he brings Elliston a message from his wife Rosina, but he retreats into his house before receiving it.

Elliston and Rosina had separated four years earlier. Soon, people noticed a green tint to his skin and often heard a hissing sound coming from his bosom. Elliston sought the attention of others and pointed out the snakes they possessed within their own bosoms. His relatives placed him in an asylum, but his doctors decided his affliction did not demand confinement.

After learning this, Herkimer returns to Elliston, who says his self-contemplation has nurtured the serpent. Rosina appears and suggests that he "forget [himself] in the idea of another." They touch and Roderick is healed.

Selfishness is similar to egotism which is is the motivation to maintain and enhance favourable views of self. Egotism means placing oneself at the centre of one's world with no direct concern for others.One of the main themes in this story is egotism and reveals that we cannot live only for ourselves but need the help and interaction of others

To read the story The Bosom-serpent online go to here

So then we ask “How can we become less selfish? Less egotistical?”

How can we start to live selfless lives, start to think more of others, our friends, our family and our community?

The answer is simple…JUST START.

  • Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.
  • Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.
  • I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbour. Do you know your next door neighbour?
  • In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.
  • Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lays.
    Mother Teresa

Take it one step at a time. Making a meal for a friend who is sick. Remembering a birthday or just sending an sms to show you care.

You can become more involved in your church or community. If you look around in your area you can find an orphanage, foundation or cause to support. It may not always be giving money; it could be giving of your time. What about visiting the lonely in an old age home?

Whatever you do ,make a decision to live selflessly rather than selfishly! One day at a time.

[*] Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egotism;_or,_The_Bosom-Serpent]

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