August 3, 2011

The beauty of being selfish, or, why putting yourself first is altruistic.

Truisms aren’t always true.

How about these ones? “Pain is gain.” “Everything worth having takes hard work.” “Never take the easy way out.” Or, “Good people always put others first.”

Baloney. Not when it comes to designing your life. Not when it comes to your health. Not when it comes to your happiness.

There’s too much dogma out there telling us that we have to sacrifice ourselves in order to be good people. There’s too much messaging telling us that the more we give, the more we take a back seat, the more we’ll come first—in other people’s eyes and in helping the world. We see it in the yoga community. Seva (service), anyone? It’s all gotten a bit muddled. Yes, we want to be good people. Yes, we want to do good in the world.

How can we possibly do this without taking care of ourselves? How can we possibly take care of other people’s health and happiness if our own health and happiness is shot?

Let’s put it this way, courtesy Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project: “Epicurus wrote, “We must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed toward attaining it.””

And “Contemporary research shows that happy people are more altruistic, more productive, more helpful, more likable, more creative, more resilient, more interested in others, friendlier, and healthier. Happy people make better friends, colleagues, and citizens.”

Let’s re-read that: Happy people make better friends, colleagues, and citizens.

So what would make you happy today? What would, to use a term Life Coach revolutionary Martha Beck uses, help you feel the “shackles” come off? What would help you feel free? Liberated.

Your body knows. It feels free and at ease when you’re making choices that honour your health and happiness. The tension starts to melt. Your stomach, chest, jaw and throat soften. Your breath comes easier and deeper. You begin to show up in the world more authentically, bringing your higher Self, your best Self, and your light is no longer hidden behind tension, resentment and frustration.

You begin to be of service simply by being you. What if it doesn’t matter what picture frame we put on our gifts to the world? What if being a fortune-making corporate copyright lawyer is your true path? What if you are simply here to bring your shining, vibrant self wherever you go? What if that’s enough?

Maybe, you’d be being selfish, or maybe you’d be fulfilling your destiny. And by doing that, by serving yourself, you begin to serve your Self—to the world.

With love,


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