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My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Thursday, June 14

Selfishly Pleasing Others

"...often when we believe we are thinking of others and putting their needs
first, we are really just trying to please - which means we
are really thinking about ourselves. "

http://www.easwaran.org/nilgiri.cfm/pageid:614

I admit it, I'm a people pleaser. Even when I was a rabid Objectivist and thought selfishness was a virtue and that people pleasing was not particularly good, I still enjoyed it. It seems I can't win.

I have to wonder at the alternative.
Does this mean that one should only do things one hates for the good of others, to be sure of truly being selfless?

Or is it "good enough" to avoid noticing whether one enjoys it or not? Or is the idea to be aware of what one enjoys (pleasing people, say) or not but not let it affect what one does?

I can't help thinking there's something missing in this.

2 comments:

C. M. said...

I know *I'm* missing something (but I did remember to come post here instead of the LJ feed!).

Who determined that "selfless" automatically equals more than "selfish"? how are we defining these two terms here?

Becky said...

I didn't create the LJ feed, so I have no way of knowing a comment is there unless I happen to look - and I usually don't, so I'm glad you posted here. Who are you, btw?

It seems to be a common theme in religion and morality to value self-sacrifice and giving more than taking care of oneself and certainly more than taking.

I think of selflessness as not thinking of oneself, as putting others' benefit before one's own. Selfishness is usually considered putting one's own benefit before anyone else's, to the harm of others. Although sometimes its used to criticize people who do something to benefit themselves but who also provided benefit for others.

I think most belief systems also incorporate the idea that the interests of oneself and others aren't necessarily mutually exclusive (at least not always or even generally).