“Your soul is all that you possess. Take it in hand and make something of it!” ~Martin H. Fischer

If living for others is selfless and good, than is focusing ourselves selfish and bad?

Although thinking and acting exclusively for ourselves is indeed selfish, to place focus on one’s own self-improvement and personal development–becoming happier and more positive, fostering a stronger and more compassionate spirit, striving to be a better person–is not selfish because bringing out the best of your Self will certainly benefit friends, family members and all of those whom you encounter.

When we are happy, those around us are influenced to feel happiness. When we are positive and tranquil, those around us will feel more positive and tranquil, too. When we strive every day to bring out the best of ourselves, others around us necessarily benefit. In this way, focusing on ourselves is not selfish; we actually serve to better ourselves on behalf of others.

How to Better the Self Without Being Selfish

The definition of selfishness is to be more concerned with one’s own interests, needs, and wishes while explicitly ignoring those of others. Being selfish means that you show that your personal needs and wishes are thought to be more important than those of other people. To be primarily self-concerned is to necessarily neglect others. But by these definitions, couldn’t striving to better ourselves through introspection and inner growth be considered selfish, as well?

Here on DaveUrsillo.com I write a lot about self-improvement and personal development topics. Am I endorsing people to be more selfish? Hardly.

When we intently focus on ourselves with the goal of becoming better persons, we are not acting selfishly so long as the betterment of who we are on the inside will benefit those around us, from our families and friends to coworkers and strangers we encounter every day.

Social studies prove that one’s own happiness has a direct influence on the happiness of family members, friends, and other men and women with whom we interact.

There is a direct, though often subtle, connectedness between how one’s mood and actions can influence the mood and actions of others.

Happiness begets happiness, and sadness begets sadness.

Thus, when one embarks upon an inner journey to improve his or her Self– one’s spirit or soul, who one is on the inside–one person can necessarily come to improve the lives of those around him or her because more compassionate, happier, and positive people have a direct influence on everyone he or she encounters and interacts with.

Improving the Self is like Improving One’s Health

An equivalent of self-improvement and personal development through which one strives to better the Self in an unselfish way is focusing on one’s own health through exercise, eating well or even quitting smoking. Few of us would ever consider exercising, eating healthily or breaking the addiction to smoking cigarettes as selfish acts, and yet they place deliberate focus and attention upon one’s Self.

As with striving to be more healthy, improving our inner selves necessarily benefits those around us, too. If we quit smoking and live healthier lifestyles, we are lengthening our lives not only for ourselves but for our families and friends and all of those around us.

When we strive to improve our thinking patterns and behaviors, and work to develop our inner spirits to be warmer and happier, everyone that we encounter benefits.

Showing concern for one’s self over others is selfish. But when we strive to become happier and more positive, work to foster a stronger and more compassionate spirit and become better people, we explicitly place attention on the development of ourselves for the definite betterment of those around us.

In this way, we focus on ourselves without being selfish, because bringing out the best of us is what’s best for others.

Do you agree? Where do you struggle with being “healthily” selfish?