Selflessness v Selfishness (Part 1)
As human beings should we be selfish? Here is an open letter I came across that may have the answer.
It is during times of deep pain that I learn the greatest lessons.
Sometimes life has to give us a heavy dose of pain in order for us to be motivated to grow.
Pain is the strongest change agent — it fuels us to do something better, to seek the root causes of pain and to uproot them. In that way, pain is our greatest teacher, and we should listen to it when it speaks.
When the pain fades, we all too often forget the lessons, and life has to give us another dose of it until we finally choose to evolve. I often write letters to myself during those times so that I remember the lessons that I’ve learned, lest I forget them once the pain fades.
However, this time, pain has taught me a lesson too rich to keep to myself, and I feel compelled to share it, in hopes that it will inspire you, and thus make the world more free.
Throughout my life, I have enjoyed immeasurable amounts of freedom that has allowed me to see the world, meet incredible people, and enjoy very unique experiences. It has allowed me to explore self discovery, learn about other cultures, and cultivate a highly evolved view of the world.
While I have experienced a lifestyle that few in history have ever had access to, I have also met my share of demons. Most notably, I have fought a deep and devastating sense of loneliness that lingers no matter how hard I attempt to fill it.
Because of a recent encounter with pain, I now understand the root of this loneliness.
I have spent the greater part of my life exploring what would make me happy, using my freedom to discover what fills me up, what makes me feel alive, and what makes me want to leap out of bed in the morning. I am completely driven by freedom.
Even as a kid, I fantastized about the idea of being financially free. I did not want to answer to someone above me, because I wanted to be free. This core desire impacts my political views, the way I approach relationships, and how I pursue happiness.
I realize now that I have completely missed the mark until now. I have had freedom backwards for twenty-six years.
My quest for freedom has been completely centered around myself. Everything around me, from the friends that I keep to the businesses that I pursue, have been with selfish intent.
I have always argued that a certain amount of selfishness was healthy, especially from an economic sense. I still believe this to be the case.
But I have also discovered that there is no freedom in selfishness.
The thing about selfishness is that it’s never satisfied. The ego always wants more. Selfishness can feel good, yes, but it cannot feel free, because there is always more required.
We all have different ways of expressing our selfishness. There is always another dollar to be made, another girl to be kissed, another level to be reached, depending on your vice.
Some people are selfish in their quest for security, or for happiness. In their desire to feel secure, they become slaves to it, and security flees them. In their desire for happiness, they look for others to fill them, and they have self destructive relationships. Each of these are rooted in selfishness.
When I was a devout Christian, I learned much about the concept of sin. The original meaning of sin is “to miss the mark.” I now understand this to be opearting from a place of selfishness, or ego. I only know this because I have missed the mark so badly.
I can’t help but wonder if the story of Jesus is so compelling because it is a tale of a pure act of selfless love. We humans have been wandering around selflessly for so long that it took a pure act of selflessness to show us that we’ve missed the mark — to show us that we have sin in us… that we have selfishness in us.
I have now learned that as long as one is self-focused, he will never be free, because he is serving a master that is never satisfied.
Even though I’ve never had a “boss,” I have been a slave… I’ve been a slave to myself, which is never satisfied as long as it is trying to satisfy itself.
The only true path to freedom, fulfillment, and happiness is to give.
The only happy relationships are those that are completely focused on filling the other person up, without need to receive in return.
The only truly successful businesses are those that are focused on giving more value than they receive in monetary dollars.
When we attempt to “get” something, we approach it with lack, because we are in the mindset of not having. But when we give, we create abundance that fills up everyone.
Seeking to fill yourself is slavery. Filling up others makes you free.
It took a great deal of pain to arrive at this conclusion. It was one of the most humbling moments of my life to realize that the source of my dissatisfaction was not anything outside of myself, it was simply my own selfish focus.
I have created a world that serves me, and I too rarely have stepped outside of it. No fucking wonder that I feel lonely.
We so often look to others to make us feel fulfilled, and then blame them when we don’t feel that way. I now believe that every area of dissatisfaction in our lives is actually self created by the ego.
TO THOSE OF YOU IN RELATIONSHIPS: serve the other person. Let go of the idea that each of you should give 50% to the relationship — both of you need to give 120%, and then you’ll have a match. Your relationship is not about you, so if you have needs that aren’t being met, GIVE MORE.
TO THOSE OF YOU IN BUSINESS: People give you money because of the value that you provide. If your business relies on trickery or purely selfish gain, you are going to burn out. I promise. If you are not making the kind of money that you want, GIVE MORE VALUE. Money is an exchange, not a right.
If YOU don’t feel filled up, then fill up someone else. You need to get out of the “you” focus. Please do not take as long as I did to realize that I’m right.
The most humbling thing of my life was to sit in front of the person that I claimed to care about the most and realize that my dissatisfaction was not rooted in anything outside myself, but instead in my own selfishness.
Because of that, I have had more spontaneous emotional outbursts in the last few days than I am comfortable to admit, and I question what my life and my relationship with that person would have been like if I had stopped being so selfish and instead focused on others.
And then I rephrase the question, “What COULD life be like if I focused more on others than I did on myself?”
When I ask that question, I feel free.
Not free in the sense that I previously saw — as a route to please myself — but free to give and serve. Free to be fulfilled.
And if we all asked that question and got outside of oursevles… then we may have hope after all.
I love you,
Ryan Daniel Moran
The letter is from his website http://freedomfastlane.com.