Is it virtuous to be selfish?
By general consensus, it isn’t considered a complimentary attribute, to be called, ‘Selfish’. And yet, the act of being selfish has many different facets. One can assert that being selfish is a trait that can actually make you a better person, psychology experts say.
When I think of myself, and give myself enough time to rest and refuel and restart, I’m actually taking those around me into consideration as well. They benefit from the healthier me that’s not strung out and exhausted from over exertion. Caring for the ones I love has always been my priority, but I’ve come to a point in my life, a slight bend in the road, where I don’t think it’s too self-centered, or too self-absorbed for me to begin to address my needs - first.
What does it mean to act virtuously?
As stated from an internet site: ‘A virtuous act requires that we do the right thing knowingly and willingly, that we act in character, and that we do the act for its own sake (and not from an ulterior motive or reward). Moral Development.’
If I am to be happy and able to fulfill my personal goals and reach the heights of achievement that I am pursuing, I have to act on my own behalf, to look after myself; taking care to nourish my mind, body, and soul, so that I will be healthy and fit from within - first.
The famous author of books including, TheVirtue of Selfishness and The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand’s quote from her book titled, Atlas Shrugged, seemed pertinent to me on this very topic: ‘Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in the lonely frustration for the life you deserved… The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.’
I’ve never thought I was a selfish person; who would actually think of them self that way? But more and more over the years, I’ve become selfish in small but very significant ways - for me. Little pleasures; not buying sprees or beauty treatments, just letting the daily obligations wait for awhile, and off to the woods with my music and an attitude of ‘Let It GO’ suits me just fine.
Oh, I admit that I do love to go off to a flea market or a thrift store by myself, or wander through a health food store without a timetable nagging on my conscience. And I wouldn’t say ‘No’ to anyone who wanted to make dinner one night, not that anyone ever offers - but the fact that I now take my liberties when I want, is quite a virtuous selfishness.
Among the quotes that I uncovered by the intuitive Ayn Rand, I find this to be my favorite:
‘The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.’