Good people are selfish

We live in a society of empathy. If you constantly think about other people, and how you could potentially help them, then you are a good person, right?

While the general premise for this is correct — if you can make other people’s lives better, you are a better person — the solution to get there is wrong.

You achieve this by being noticeably selfish first. How so?

Setting yourself on fire

The issue with trying to help others no matter what, is, that you end up setting yourself on fire to keep others warm. If you constantly give, and rarely receive, you feel used. Rightly so. Society tells you that you need to be selfless to help others. But if you are selfless, you will ultimately ask yourself when you will receive something for your hard work?

Now, obviously, you will occasionally get something back. Like a nice handshake. Or even a bottle of wine for your work.

Great. But is that really what you want?

If you constantly give, you will eventually build up resentment. This happens sooner for some, later for others. But there will always be a certain imbalance. It might feel good for a short amount of time. But slowly creeps in that question of when you will finally get something? Or you just stop completely at some point, because “You’ve done enough for your karma points.”

Basically, you engage in a covert contract. Without noticing it. Sooner or later, you want something in return for your constant giving.

The crux is that the other person doesn’t know about it. You give them with already expecting something in return.

They weren’t aware that they are part of a contract.

They thought you do it voluntarily. And maybe you did. Or rather, you thought you did.

Fighting nature

People don’t like to hear this dark truth, but every human is always out for themselves.

If someone mistreats you, it’s not because the whole world is out to get you.

They just focus more on themselves. There may be some people who seem like they are selfless. But the reality is, they do it to feel good themselves.

Be honest, if you helped people without getting something in return, you either felt bad for not getting something, or you felt good for helping and being so selfless.

However, both feelings were rooted in what you gained from it.

Don’t feel bad about it. That’s how humans work. It is our natural survival instinct. It isn’t as needed today, as it was back then because you’re not hunted by a predator. But you still need to survive.

If something makes you feel good, you’re more likely to do it again. Simple feedback loop.

That said, the good feeling of giving freely comes from our ancestors. Because we lived in tribes. And giving to the others in the tribe secured said tribe. It’s existence, and it’s continuation. So, again, you didn’t fully give without second thoughts about yourself.

My point? Get over it. True selflessness doesn’t exist.

There is always something running in the background to help you. Be it material, or immaterial. Feelings or not. But you do gain something from it.

The selfish man

So now that we’ve established that you always focus on yourself anyway, we do realize a better methodology to help others. If you come from a position of strength.

How to do that? Focus on yourself first!

See, if you managed to get what you want, it is way easier to THEN look after others. Because you aren’t filled with resentment for giving. You already got what you wanted. So giving to others now is fine. No hard feelings.

This is what you see with most successful people. Once they acquired good wealth, they gladly buy their loved ones new things. Without second thoughts.

This is the key part. The husband working his ass off might still buy everything for his kids and wife, but secretly he hates doing it because money is tight.

Look after yourself first and make decent money. Then you will give without questioning the source of it.

I keep talking about how forgiveness is also an important trait for any man. Especially if you have a wife and kids. They will screw up occasionally. You will need to forgive them. But it needs to come from a position of strength. Of inner peace. If you aren’t satisfied within you, other people screwing up will make you even more resentful and mad.

“They never give me what I want anyway, and now this?!” is really not a good way to think about your loved ones.

As opposed to, “They’re just humans. This one little screw up doesn’t undo all the things I got from them already.”

And it’s the same with helping others. If you are at peace with yourself because your needs were met, you got what you wanted, you are more willing to give, yourself. The balance of things is way better.

I argue this is actually true selflessness. Honest selflessness. Because it isn’t tied to any covert contract of getting anything out of it. You already got what you wanted. No need to think about anything in return. You give because you want to. Not because you need to for getting what you want.

Endless examples:

  • You want to donate to charity. But as long as you’re broke, this will always feel bad, and you would want the universe to give you “luck” in return because you’re such a good person. Focus on yourself first, and then give your money without expecting something in return.
  • You want to gift your wife flowers. But you expect something in return (for example sex). A covert contract she doesn’t know about! Have your needs met first, and then gift them without expecting anything. Much more sincere!
  • A friend wants you to help move his furniture. But he still owes you money. You help and expect the money back. Nothing happens. Get the money first, and then help because you want to without covert thoughts.

You can find more examples, I am sure. But you need to uncondition yourself that unending selflessness is good. It isn’t. The opposite is true. Because it makes you resentful towards the people asking for help without even knowing.

Rather, be selfish first, so you can give from a position of strength and peace.

Being selfish is honest selflessness.

Be a good person by being selfish.

— Alexander Graves

Blogger, ecommerce entrepreneur and master of mind and masculinity. I run to help other men achieve success.