Who says winter is the worst season?
Friday, January 14, 2011
Tonight I sat in a waiting room of a spa, wasting time as a friend of mine finished up with a client so we could head to dinner. I glanced over at a stack of magazines and on the cover of one in particular I spotted the words, "How to put yourself first."
It's amazing how expensive that lie is and even more amazing is how many people will buy it.
Truth is, we are receiving sales pitch after sales pitch about how to be more selfish when it's something that we are already really really good at. Any of us could write an article about how easy it is to put ourselves first. Show me a baby who, before learning how to form sentences, hasn't already mastered the word, "mine."
Good parents try desperately to teach their children to share and to be kind - to be less selfish. Training these young people for a world that doesn't reciprocate because at the end of the day, especially in first world nations, sharing is for chumps and being kind is equated to "being a push-over."
At least that's what we are lead to believe. Every single advertisement you see, except maybe charity ads, are pleading with you to realize your inner selfishness... and embrace it.
Embrace it why? Because the only thing more important than myself, is a happier version of myself. And just how is that attained? Apparently by buying new things and making more time for me.
I can hear it now, "what's wrong with buying things for yourself or relaxing every once in a while?"
Absolutely nothing. But it's when these things overcrowd our lives and we forget what the needs of others look like that this becomes a real problem. And let's be honest... when we unconsciously obey these ads does it really make us happy? Do they really offer the sense of completeness that they promise? When you headed to walmart because they were rolling back prices did you lay in bed that night and think, "wow, I saved $13 today and I feel fantastic."
I admit that I have felt the rush of a great pair of shoes on sale and I've enjoyed a weekend away to recuperate. But it didn't last long and if my life were to end today and I had time to write a top ten list of "my life's favourite moments" you can be sure that neither of those items would be even close to making the cut.
It's in my selfishness that I hurt others. It's in the selfishness of others that I feel hurt. The only thing that putting myself first really accomplishes is shallowness, loneliness and missed opportunities to be a light in this world.
The most notable people in history, in this world, and in your life are the people who put others first. They are the people who hear the trumpeting of self betterment and turn their gaze to someone in need. These are the ones who go out of their way to help, to comfort, to encourage and to aid even when they may be in need themselves. And the most honourable thing about these people is that when they serve others, they don't do it in hopes of being returned the favour.
I want to be that person. I want to live the kind of life that is sacrificial.
To take my innate selfishness and spit in its face. To hate the ply of the majority and their convincing tactics to focus only on myself.
It really doesn't take much to make a difference in this world.
You don't have to be rich or brave or successful or even brilliant.
It starts with putting others first.