Being Selfless Is Extremely Selfish

This world can be quite terrible sometimes. Billions of people live in poverty, huge groups of people get discriminated against just because of how they were born and actual equality still seems very remote. Add to that the daily amount of murders, rapes and massacres all around the globe and it’s safe to say that this world isn’t a very just place. However, fortunately, just occasionally, there are exceptions.

Perhaps the title of this post doesn’t sound very positive, but in fact I think it’s one of the most beautiful things in this world. Of course, it can be seen and used in a negative way. Take Milton Friedman, who stated that altruism doesn’t exist at all and that everyone always acts purely out of their own interest. Not a strange conclusion when you consider that every selfless action has some kind of reward, but how about we turn it around: selfless actions DO exist, except at the same time, they are selfish actions because there is no feeling better than that of helping other people.

Unfortunately, very few people realise this. When I see elderly people at the train station looking all confused, nobody bothers to ask if they could use some help. Similarly, young people giving up their seat for the elderly in public transport or people offering help with carrying something heavy are still very rare. Too rare, if you ask me.

The thing is, though… doing such things is amazing. Not only are you able to help someone out and, in the case of the elderly, give them a much better outlook on “today’s youth”, but you will feel proud of what you’ve done. You will feel happy that you helped those people and getting that thank you is one of the best feelings there is. Even those little acts such as offering help to someone who is looking worried or confused, even if it’s nothing more than just the offer, they help, and they make everyone concerned feel better.

So the question is, why don’t you do it more often? Out of fear for embarrassment? After all, it has happened to me that I offered help and received a not-so-friendly reply (unfortunately as a guy helping a girl your age is very quickly seen as flirting or suggesting that she cannot handle it herself…) But is that really a valid reason? Sure, I still remember that moment, but I also remember those moments when I did get a very friendly reply and when people did appreciate the offer.

In the end, I think it comes down to a certain mindset. I never used to be like this, but at one point, someone told me something similar to this post, and that made me ask that typical philosophical question of “what is the purpose of life?” Nothing, really. My life, as an individual, is nothing if I consider the billions of other lives around me. But someone else’s life… that’s important. So I concluded that the purpose of life is to make other people as happy as possible, and that if you can use your own life to save or even improve one other life, then it has all been worth it.

Since then, I’ve been that person who leaves the crowd and who does what he feels is right. Rather than pretending not to see a person in need of help like the rest of the crowd does and like I always used to do, I now offer that help. But I don’t do that for selfless reasons. I do that because I have learned that there is no better feeling than the one you get when you’re helping other people and that it can suddenly make your own life seem meaningful as well. Being selfless is selfish, and that’s why more people should do it.


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