Melvyn Tan
October 28, 2013 — By tanmelvyn@gmail.com

Do You Act In Your Own Self-Interest?

[blockquote source=”Titus 3:14 (GWT)”]Our people should also learn how to set an example by doing good things when urgent needs arise so that they can live productive lives.[/blockquote] When individuals “act in their own self-interest”, does it bring about benefits for all? Self-less At one end of the spectrum is this question: can human beings […]

[blockquote source=”Titus 3:14 (GWT)”]Our people should also learn how to set an example by doing good things when urgent needs arise so that they can live productive lives.[/blockquote]

When individuals “act in their own self-interest”, does it bring about benefits for all?

Self-less
At one end of the spectrum is this question: can human beings be entirely self-less?  Is it possible that we can be absolutely concerned about the needs and wishes of others and have entirely no regards for our own needs and wishes at all?

Selfish
At the other end, the question would be: can human beings be entirely selfish? Is it possible to absolutely self-absorbed, to the extent that one becomes an absolute narcissistic individual?

Either extremes are either rare or not possible. Yet, we all display some levels of altruistic as well as narcissistic.

Clue-less
Some people will fall for anything.  When there is a need, they will want to fulfil it.  When others ask them for a favour, they will rush to accede to it.  Some may interpret these people as being “self-less”, but in reality they are clearly “clue-less”.  What’s worse is that these people will lose their identity over time.

Dictator
On the other end of the spectrum are those that are only concerned about themselves.  These are the ones that will use all of their own resources, and perhaps even those of others if they let them, to simply fulfil their own needs.  Some may interpret these people as “lone-genius”, but in reality they are clearly the “lone-dictator”.  Likewise, these people will also lose their identity over time.

In-between
Where you fit is some where in-between.  You may want to meet the needs and expectations of others, but you’d only do so if it also fulfil a need in you.  For instance, you may volunteer your time.  That’s pretty self-less right?  But by volunteering, you are also satisfy a need within you.  The question, which level of need are you fulfilling within you?

Growth & Contribution
According to Tony Robbins, the two spiritual needs that lead to a life of fulfilment are growth and contribution.  Growing can be in the form of “expansion of your capacity, capability, or understanding”.  And contribution, at the pinnacle of all human needs, is that “sense of service and focus on helping, giving to, and supporting others”.  (Source: Tony Robbins)

Application
Think of one area in your life, where there is something that:

  • you hate to do or try to avoid doing?
  • however you know that it is good for you
  • and it is good for others
  • and serves the greater good

Turn these experiences into something that you’d like to do by asking these questions:

  • Growth: In what ways can I grow as I work on this? Now, note that growth can either be an expansion of your capacity, capability, or understanding.
  • Contribution: In what ways am I contributing – serving, helping, giving, and supporting others – as I work on this?

Father, we pray that You guide us in doing good things so that we can live productive lives.  In Jesus name, Amen.