Is being selfish and being smart the same thing? What’s the difference?

Sometimes you have to be selfish to be selfless. – Edward Albert

Today and always, you need to protect your own interests. You have to look out for yourself and make plans for a better future. Often, you might be told by friends and family members that looking out for number one is what you should be doing, even if it is selfish. But is it truly the same thing to be selfish than to be smart? Is there a way to reconcile a positive attitude towards others and being good to yourself? Let’s take a look at this question.

Some things give the appearance of selfishness

There are behaviors that might seem selfish at first glance. When you plan for your future, you might not give as much consideration to your family or friends or other people in your life. When you are caught up in your planning, you might dream big and not always focus on reality.

However, this doesn’t mean that you are truly being selfish. You are making plans for yourself and giving shape to your future. You might not be able to consider every element when you plan, much less when you dream. It’s natural to focus first on what you want and need, and that’s a fine thing to do. It doesn’t make you selfish to plan, to dream, and to feel ambitious.

Focusing on yourself first is smart

The only person whose life you can control, up to a point, is your own. You are, first and foremost, responsible for yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, nobody else will do it for you. While you might have a degree of responsibility for others, especially for children or the elderly, there are limits to how much you can do for other adults.

If you don’t take care of your life, nobody will take over for you. If you find yourself in a bad position, you will not be able to help others either. By taking care of yourself and having more resources, you are ensuring that you do not depend in excess on others and also that others can depend on you.

Not all your choices will be accepted, and that’s fine

Doing what is best for yourself, what is going to bring you more happiness, energy, money, and other resources, is not always going to please those around. Imagine that you dream of going to another country and living there, but your family is worried and wants you to stay. In the short term, they might be happier if you stayed and distressed if you leave. But in the long term, you might be the one who is unhappy and that can also affect your family negatively. If you always put off your dreams for the sake of maintaining the peace, you may feel resentful, whether you want to or not.

Some choices come with disruption but have a great potential for improving your life. You can avoid them if you choose to, but you might be coming back to the same ideas, feel the desire to pursue your dreams, and feel frustration and resentment that you could not do it. That’s not the healthiest situation to be in.

You are allowed to make choices that don’t suceed

One thing that keeps us in place is the fear of failing, the fear that we will be especially selfish if we insist on what we want and then it doesn’t work out. But you can’t predict the future.

You are allowed to pursue what you want and what you dream of, even if it doesn’t work out in the end. There are no guarantees in life for anything, and that should not be enough of a reason not to try something that calls to you time and again.

The better you are off, the more you have to give

Sacrificing yourself for the sake of others feels selfless. But, as we have established, just because it seems selfless doesn’t mean it actually is. Instead, it sets you and those around you for difficulties in the long run.

If you sacrifice all the time, you get unhappy, you might become less healthy, less well-off. Eventually, it can lead you into a situation where you can’t help others, instead, you have to rely on others.

You need to be measured when being selfish and selfless

Selfish and selfless are both two extremes that are best avoided. You don’t want to be selfish all the time but being too selfless is not doing yourself or those around you any favors.

Instead, try to be smart and be kind, when you can be. Byt remember that your first responsibility is to yourself. Put your mask on first, so that you are also in a position to help others rather than need help yourself.