How often have you not done something you wanted to do because you thought it was selfish? How often is it drilled into our heads that we should always think of other people's needs before our own? I am not saying that we should never care about other people or fulfill every whim without regard to how it might affect another person. I am not saying screw everyone else and just worry about yourself. Helping others can bring a great sense of satisfaction and I think we should all strive to assist our fellow man when we can. But, this idea that we should always put ourselves on the back burner is very detrimental to the individual and society as a whole -- the world would be a lot better place if more people made their own happiness a priority, within reason of course. Caring about others and caring about yourself are not mutually exclusive.
If the only way to fund your dream vacation entails robbing your senile aunt of her life savings, this is unacceptable. It is important to make the distinction between truly hurting other people with our actions and merely upsetting them because doing what we want interferes with what they want. For most of the general population of law-abiding citizens with a hint of a conscience, I am betting the main barrier for most people to getting what they want is this second instance. The wife and mother who wants to go back to school but will not because her husband makes her feel guilty about not being there for the children but whose real motivation is to avoid having to actually parent his children and contribute to the upkeep of the house. The person who passes on a great job opportunity in a new location because of a parent or sibling who is completely dependent on her and makes her feel guilty for even thinking of leaving. Sure, it sucks when we think we are making a decision that upsets those close to us, but if you are not truly hurting them with your actions, that is not your problem. You are not responsible for other people's happiness nor are other people responsible for yours.
Take an honest look at your life...how much effort have you expended in trying to secure your own happiness compared to trying to make other people happy? How many things have done to make others happy that made you unhappy? How many things have you passed on because you thought you were being ''selfish?'' Think of the things you want in life. If securing them does not involve endangering the physical or emotional well-being of another person, you have ever right to make getting those things a top priority.
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