Because this is the time a new year begins, right after my part of the earth has begun back on its path to more light and warmth (even if that seems hard to believe looking outside at the stormy skies, water everywhere, and knowing how cold my feet are as I sit typing this). it is a time I look at personal intentions for the new year. I have written about this before. I don't call them resolutions but they are evaluating where I am, where I have been, and where do I want to go.
It would not matter when a person looked at their life; but if there is never a reevaluation, it better be because things are perfect as they are. Frankly I think looking at ourselves is part of an exciting life. If things are not what we want, then making plans for what would change it, should come next. While there is life, it is never too late to make changes.
In my case, one of my questions is something I have wrestled with before but thought I'd bring up here to see if I could get other people's ideas on how they work through this-- How to discern between valid self interest and selfishness.
Setting boundaries, making goals, all of that requires looking at who we are and who we want to be. I don't believe we can make goals that involve other people-- other than our role in their lives. So we could want to help someone but cannot goal that we will be successful. I can make goals to write a book, paint a painting, work to get such work into the public arena, but cannot goal that it will be seen as good by someone else or that I will sell anything.
So goals have to be about things we can actually control but even then... One of my issues is working through an old question. When do I have a right to want something just for me? I suspect some of this questioning comes out of my parents or maybe even our country's Puritan heritage. My folks, more than often, expressed the viewpoint that I was selfish. Was I really or was that brought up when I wanted to do something for me that counteracted something they wanted for them?
In terms of virtues, I consider selfishness to be negative. It doesn't end up getting us what we want because often it's looking at short term satisfactions instead of long term values. But it's not good to deny all things for self as that would mean we didn't value ourselves enough.
When I do this kind of logical debating with myself, it reminds me of that great scene in the movie Princess Bride (worth re-watching if you haven't seen it for awhile) where the two characters are doing a battle of wits over taking poison. The one man argues both sides but ends up losing because he didn't consider there was a third option. The lesson being, most especially when we are arguing with ourselves, watch out that we have not narrowed our options to the point we don't see a third one outside the box.
So, to quit arguing with myself, I would appreciate any thinking others have done on selfishness vs valid self-interest.
Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane, co-author Rainy Day Thought, where they write about experiences, ideas, nature, creativity, and culture. The latter might appear at times political, but we will try to avoid partisanship to speak to the broader issues that impact a culture. This is just too important a time not to sometimes speak to problems that impact society. As she and I do, readers will find we often disagree and have for over 50 years-- still able to be close friends. You can do that if you can be agreeable that we share more than not despite the difference.
Diane posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments, relating to the topic, are welcome as it turns an article into a discussion, but must be in English, with no profanity, hate-filled comments, or links (unless pre-approved).
Fantasy, the painting by Diane Widler Wenzel, cropped a little to fit the needs of a banner.