The Power of Being Selfish

Selfishness is perhaps one of the most hated personality traits in this world. However, there are always two sides of a coin. The core fact lies in how we choose to view it; rather live it.


Selfishness is often described as something that is done for self at the expense of others’ benefits. Living for self is considered a sin while living for others- a virtue. The most famous and perhaps the first challenge to this fact came from the famous novelist Ayn Rand. She is famous for her novels such as Fountainhead and philosophical works such as Capitalism and the Virtue of selfishness. She is credited with putting forward the theory of objectivism- a new way of life. She described it as logical selfishness; one that is not a sin but a virtue.


We have to first analyze why being selfish is not considered as good. The only reason that comes to my mind is that we think one can live for self only if he hurts someone else- either in monetary, physical or emotional sense. We also think that God only blesses those who live for others and that selfishness will take us to hell. Nothing actually can be farther away from truth. Perhaps the first most selfish attitude was that of Krishna. Arjuna could never have fought the war had Krishna not guided him to be above emotions and be selfish; “If you don’t kill them, they will kill you”, those were his words.


But coming back to the present, we have to redefine selfishness. For me, it’s a way to treat your life as sacred. Selfishness can be a virtue if we live ONLY for ourselves. Currently we all live for others. Don’t we splurge money on ourselves to buy accessories to show us better than our friends or neighbors? Don’t we; in order to get promotions and all; conspire against our fellow colleagues instead of trusting on our ability? Is that selfishness? A blatant NO! Selfishness is when we live only for selves without bothering for others. It is when we are happy in our lives and we don’t care what others think or how much they own. This is the true selfishness.


Of course, there are always some hard choices. Anyone who has read “the virtue of selfishness” will remember the various dilemmas that were discussed in the novel. The trick is to define what is logical happiness for you and then not compromise on that. If you love someone from other religion, its not wise to succumb to your parents’ whims and marry someone from own religion just for the sake of it. Selfishness is never easy but then, if logical; there is nothing like it.


Selfishness is a power into itself. It not only provides us with logical happiness but also frees us from those very thoughts that demean us; like comparing ourselves with others. Why care for anyone else when we have our own sacred life to live? Trick is not to think bad about others; or plot conspiracies against them etc; just not caring about them and believing in own abilities to succeed.


I can go on regarding the topic but selfishness can’t be talked about; it can only be lived. In the end, I can recall a famous instance from the novel “The Fountainhead”. One of the characters, Elseworth Toohey abhors the main protagonist, Howard Roark and tries to destroy his career. When he succeeds in a court case against Roark, he goes up to him and asks him that what does he think of him? The answer given by Roark is perhaps the most famous line of the novel: “Oh! But I don’t think of you.” That’s logical selfishness.


Mayank Sharma



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