Does Happiness Require Selfishness?

Written By: Adam Abramowitz

I’m beginning to think that I have developed an understanding of God that fits my own idea of what has meaning, what has purpose. I’m fearful that my own philosophy of universal attraction (by way of thought) has enabled me to be ruthlessly selfish in my own attitude and behaviors. My prayers and meditations have begun to revolve around me…

“Help me live the life I dream”

“Let me be happy, free of my own mind”

“Provide conversations worth having. Help me find others who want to be heard, others who feel isolated within their own mind…”

A lot of my choices are entirely selfish, yet because I believe my motives and intentions to be pure, I can convince myself that there isn’t anything wrong with living for an ideal future.

I pray for the world to form itself around me and I hope for a future that revolves around my own manic tendency to live and breathe creativity…

I think this is wrong. It’s got to be. It can’t be right. Right? Yet I find myself wondering,

“I’m alive…why can’t I have the life that I want? Why can’t I maneuver myself into a potential lifetime of engagement; a lifetime of shared transparency and growth?”

Is it wrong for me to want to be heard? More than that, is it wrong for me to want to be “listened” to?

A lot of times, I shout feelings at a blank page; saving my pain, my hopes, my ego, and my fears on a hard disk, but for what? The pages have begun to pile up in the documents folder on my laptop and I don’t know if I’ll ever read them. I engage feeling on screen to protect myself from the only foe I know…me.

I learned a new word the other day,

Solipsism- “The view or theory that the “self” is all that can be known to exist.”

I live this idea, but I also understand that my own solipsism is the same as everyone else’s. I view the world as a conglomeration of “self’s” communicating and engaging with each other constantly, and I am only ever to escape my own “self” when I can align myself with the thoughts of another.

The greatest realizations, inspirations, and demonstrations of “self” come in the form of art. And for me, a heavy conversation is an art form. A chance to escape into the individual realities our minds reside in, vocally, as greater truths are understood. As people provide a lens into the world, as they see us live in theirs.

Most everything I do, I do for me. And it’s scary. All of my friendships and romances, basically any relationship I choose to cultivate, is completely selfish. I am in them, and I maintain them, because I get something from them. I get companionship and enjoyment from the people I choose to be around.

Is this wrong?

I could spend the next few paragraphs convincing myself that I’m a good guy, that I do things for other people, but I don’t want to. I want to understand what selfishness is and whether or not my own ideas and practices are holding me back from the happiness im trying to achieve.

Since I began working in a mental health treatment center, I’ve found myself engaged in the lives of people experiencing schizophrenia, psychosis, depression & addiction. I’ve found myself in a position where I learn daily, and where my presence seems to benefit those I’m around…

Why is it that I feel I still have no answers? Why do I still feel like there is no easy solution for anyone struggling with a disease of the mind? 

Why am I hesitant to share my own past experiences, my own troubles and beliefs, in conversation with others?

I mean, it happens, I do share, but I always feel like it’s forced. I don’t know if I have any answers for anyone… I’m just really good at listening and attempting to understand.

My current philosophy hinders me from divulging my own past experiences. A philosophy where the best offense against a battle within the mind is to help someone attack it themselves; to help another question themselves, understand their reality, and our place in it. Feel and empathize, relate and sympathize. It’s tough though…every time I open my mouth to share a story of my own, I feel like I need to shut it. It’s not about me, it’s about “you”.

There’s only thing I truly know, and it’s me. My biggest battle today seems to be divulging myself to others. Selfishly, I’m tired of hearing myself talk. I know my stories, I know my memories: I know my life. I’ve written it, I’ve spoken it, I’ve shared it, and I’m ready to move on. I’m tired of hearing myself talk and selfishly, I want to learn…

Selfishness seems to be engrained in the human experience. We all want things, we all strive to achieve, and we are all in pursuit of happiness. It’s tricky, because happiness for me, is strictly my own…

From my minds eye, to yours… ©

2 thoughts on “Does Happiness Require Selfishness?

  1. I think deep thought around selfishness in this capacity is somewhat unproductive. Innate drivers can be considered and factored into strategy but questioning them is akin to questioning why I breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. I don’t mean that there is no value in contemplating the answer to questions for which there is no concrete answer. Far from it. We (me and you) live in the abstract. However getting wrapped up in this “contemplation” is another story. I advise against it. Instead, take it at face value: If it feels good I will not require any motivation other than the inherent or intrinsic value in the act. However, if it has little or no inherent or intrinsic reward, I may require a little or a lot of manufactured or additional motivation. Luckily for you and I we find intrinsic value in human connection and discourse. It’s not EITHER selfish (benefitting self?) or selfless (benefitting others?) it is the proverbial G-spot of serenity as you so eloquently put it. It’s BOTH! So if it’s both, any mathematician will tell you they cancel each other out. Does happiness require selfishness? To the extent that selfishness means that anytime you do something that makes you happy it is also a wholly a selfish act. Considering the second part of the definition of selfish “regardless of others” it’s hard to believe the majority of your actions are selfish. Part of you’re paradigm shift has been the realization that inherently, saying what you want to hear (writing what you would like to read, etc.) is primarily selfish. It was around the time we discussed effect/affect that you realized there must be more…

    You know my personal philosophy on the subject is as follows: the greatest gift I can give the world is the most authentic version of myself. On my mission to gain a deeper understanding of myself, my actions may be perceived as selfish. These actions in question are simply a means to an end. The end is the art I create.

    *In the event that you made several spelling errors and you meant to say shellfish, I will need to revise my comment.


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