Why Indulging Your Selfish Side Is Good For Your Health


We live in a world that tries to tell us over and over again that “others come first.” We reward people who put themselves last. People who put their own needs first are seen as selfish and often held up as examples of how not to act. The irony is that we continue to do this even as lifestyle gurus like Oprah tell us that there are benefits to putting ourselves first.  Sometimes it can feel as if we’re being set up to fail.



Where most of this conflict lies is with the concept of selfishness. Dr. Margaret Paul talks about the selfishness conundrum in her Huffington post article “What Is Selfish” In the article, Dr. Paul talks about the reality of selfishness vs. the perception of selfishness. She suggests that what really makes someone selfish is not putting their own needs first but the making our needs our sole priority. It is one thing to say “I have to take care of myself so that I can better take care of you.” It is entirely another to say “I’m taking care of myself because you don’t matter.”



Putting yourself first is the best thing that you can do if you want to be a good parent, friend or leader. In the Inc. article, “Want to Be a Better Leader? Put Yourself First,” Carrie Kerpen talks about how she nearly ran herself and her company into the ground trying to be everything that her husband and her company’s fans thought she should be. It was only after she focused on herself that she was able to take the company she and her husband founded to the level of success it now enjoys.



So how do you do it? How do you put yourself first when everybody else is trying to convince you that your wants and needs should come last?



Take Time to Yourself

Block out some time that is just for you every day. It doesn’t have to be a large block of time—even twenty minutes is better than nothing. Spend that time doing something that you truly enjoy—listening to music, reading, drawing, or even simply meditating. Lululemon founder Chip Wilson swears by meditation.



Define Your Goals

These can be personal goals or professional goals. For example, while he was growing up, the aforementioned Chip Wilson dreamed of having a really big house. So, once he had the means to do so, he built one. Carrie Kerpen wanted to get healthier so she worked with a nutritionist and found that as her personal health improved, her company’s health improved as well.



Learn to Say “No.”

It is okay to turn down invitations and to say no to things that aren’t in your best interests. In fact, sometimes saying “no” is the very best thing you can do for everyone. For example: a friend wants you to go to a kickboxing class with him. You have bad knees. It’s okay to tell him no—saying no keeps you from causing further damage to your knees and it saves him from having to feel bad for making you attend something that wound up hurting you.



Ask for Help

Remember: you’re not in this alone. You can’t do everything all the time. Asking people to support you by taking on more responsibilities and being patient while you learn how to prioritize your own wants and needs is okay.



Remember: taking care of yourself and prioritizing yourself is not inherently selfish. You matter just as much as all of the other people in your life!


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