Are we able to be truly selfless? Does the human brain allow us to do things with the idea that we will not get anything in return?
Humans are scavengers. We want everything when we want it. Although there are few instances that we truly want nothing in return, or so we think.
Selfishness has a bad reputation. But it is the backbone of our existence. If we didn’t fight for what we wanted, we wouldn’t be at the top of the food chain.
While selfishness can a negative attribute, we can’t be fully disconnected from it even when we are trying to be the best version of ourselves. For example, these seemly four situations are lined with unavoidable selfishness.
1. Being helpful to a stranger.
Whether it’s grabbing a grocery cart, so an older woman doesn’t have to walk back to the storefront to return or holding the door open for someone. There is a method to our seemly selflessness. We act how we want to be treated. We want someone to take the time to leave the door open for us.
When we get older, we want to a younger person to grab our cart for us. The innocent acts of kindness are yes, just kindness in themselves, but what lies beyond that is a plan. We hope that people see the behavior appreciate that behavior and therefore remember it the next time someone older is in need of a little assistance.
Also those “good deed” feelings are enough to make anyone float on a cloud for a few minutes. If we want to feel better about ourselves we are kinder to others, allowing their affirmation to convince ourselves that we are good people.
It is a plan to make the world a little bit better because your kindness has a selfish plan to have the world become more like your egotistical self because your kind ways are the best ways.
2. Giving a gift to someone for no reason.
You saw the gift in a unique store and thought of your best friend. You had to get it because you knew he/she would love it.
Consciously we are doing this out of the kindness of our hearts and with the purest intentions. We want to make our best friend smile. A little reminder that they run through our minds and are not forgotten even when they aren’t around.
Subconsciously, what are we proving here? Are we displaying the fact that we are able to drop $20 on a gift for no reason. Is this a guilt laden gift, or are we actually capable of being selfless. I would really like to think so, but rationally it doesn’t fit into our genetic makeup. We are hunters and forgers that seek to find the best way to survive. Darwin was right, survival of the fittest. Are we trying to become the most liked, so therefore would be last person that would be ostracized if an End of the World situation presented itself?
3. Telling someone “I love you.”
I understand the concept of love can be selfless. Everyone has loved someone that is slightly out of their grasp. We have all been there. But that initial feeling of love, we want it in return. We have to learn how to love selflessly as to not drive ourselves into a mental frenzy.
You say “I love you,” to hear it back. Everyone has said it and only heard crickets in return. It is difficult to bear but you get through it and move on to someone that can say it back without hesitation.
I heard once that “you can love whomever you want, but eventually you need to be loved in return.” A true statement when it comes to love, because we are selfish. We want love. We deserve love.
4. Making new friends.
We enjoy people and hopefully people enjoy us. We want to be liked and we want to find inspiration in others. While I find friendship the cornerstone of any relationship, it is selfish. We are friends one another to build a connection. We want to feel less alone in this big world. We want to matter after we depart from the world. Friends are our saving grace. We lean on them when we need somewhere to feel understood.
That feeling of connection is selfish. We want to be close to someone, not for romantic love, but platonic love. We aren’t malicious or violent. We crave connection beyond a keyboard. The friends we actually see outside of a newsfeed. These connections are imperative in our survival in social and emotional situations.
Selfishness can be a very detrimental and evil, but there are varying degrees with everything in life. A little selfishness is unavoidable and should be understood, not shamed.