This is another favorite quote I have collected, this one from Ram Dass. “Every decision is selfish.” I didn’t like this perspective initially, recoiling from the idea of my doing anything selfishly. But as I pondered it, I found it to be true. And I had to admit that I am selfish.
Being selfish has gotten a bad rap. Growing up, I thought my father was teaching me not to be selfish, to take care of others first. Later, I realized he wanted me to take care of him, not others, and certainly not myself. I’ve had to teach myself self-care.
Once I realized the truth of my selfish nature, I found this quote to be very empowering. If every decision I made was really a negotiation, and that no matter what I decided I was being somewhat selfish, I realized it was OK for me to make a consciously selfish decision.
Another idea along the same line I heard at a lecture from Ernest Chu. He said the most selfish thing was to not take care of yourself. That decision requires others to take care of you, adding to their task of taking care of themselves. He said that if we believe we are all connected, as I do, taking care of yourself is really taking care of the collective one.
Self-care becomes more important with age. No one knows me, and my body, better than I do. I know if something is wrong and needs attention before anyone else does. So, I have the best chance of taking care of something before it gets worse. Our health is worth more than its weight in gold. Like relationships, maintaining one’s health takes work. But it takes much more work to fix if we stop doing the ongoing maintenance.
I encourage you to become more selfish, more centered on your self-care, not less.