It can be really difficult to get to the selfish moment you've promised yourself sometimes.
It makes me wonder. There's a theory that happiness is what makes a person beautiful. So, if I am taking care of me and making myself happy, then that makes me inherently more attractive to others. In that sense, a bit of selfishness is arguably good.
In my above scenario, the friend I invited feels the magnetism of my happiness in what I've selected for us to do, and that's why she enjoys it, apart from any inherent enjoyment of the activity itself.
It makes me feel like I should be selfish more often.
No, don't get me wrong, I'm no Ayn Rand, thinking that if we all just watch out for ourselves that somehow it will all work out. In fact, I'm a big believer in the Greater Good and our collective obligation to see to it. I also know that there are those in this world who would take advantage of those of us who feel that way. In fact, the entire teaching profession relies on it. Because teachers are motivated by a desire to help, they put up with things that, in other professions, would lead to mass walk outs.
Takers (whether they are individuals or systems) rely on givers continuing to give. So, how do us givers protect ourselves without changing who we are? It seems as if a person moves into thinking that selfishness is good, the pendulum swings way to one side, and she becomes self-serving and opportunistic, losing sight completely of her role in any kind of Big Picture.
I don't think we have to stop giving. But, I do think we have to learn to look at the world a little more skeptically, to ask ourselves why we are being asked to do something. Is it because we are the person best suited to the job? Because we have talent or skill or training that others don't and it would be easier for us to accomplish the task? Or is it just that we are giving by nature, and a taker has noticed that we will do it for them?
It's a weird mind game I play with myself, protecting me from me. Not letting me give away every moment of the day, but keeping some for myself for whatever use I want. Because I love my children and my students, and children are self-centered until they learn a sense of perspective, I can give too much of myself.
If I do that too often, there's a toll on my spirit. I get cranky, irritable, easy to upset. That's no good for anyone.
Like everything, it's about balance. Balancing selfishness that allows you to rejuvenate and replenish yourself, with selflessness that allows you to give to others and make a meaningful life. I'm not there yet, but I think I'm starting to understand. Taking care of me is taking care of the people I love, too, being the best me I can be for them. If I'm being selfish because of my love for others, then arguably, that's unselfish, too. And that, my friends, is joy.