Friday, January 1, 2016

The Selfish Resolution

Today we, as a society, resolve to improve ourselves. We promise to lose weight, quit smoking, travel more, write that novel, master that skill, become a better us. And on December 31, 2016, most of us will have failed. Because we will not be selfish.

For all but the first two weeks of a given year, we are conditioned to think of others. Put the needs of the many ahead of the needs of the few. Parents tend to be more prone to this than the childfree, women moreso than men. Selfishness is wrong, it's bad for families, friendships, the very fabric of the modern world.

It's your best friend's birthday, so you should go out to the restaurant even though they don't serve anything on your new diet. Your son needs help with his math homework, put away your laptop and stop worrying about your characters. Put yourself and your desires at the bottom of every list, you'll get around to it when you have the time.

Except you will never have the time. It isn't money, that can be earned in exchange for effort, it is a finite source that diminishes every time we tuck ourselves into bed. Slowly we become less ourselves, we fit into the roles that we have filled so long that we have no identity outside our ability to fill them. Small wonder that adulthood is defined by exhaustion and the need for a drink.

If someone we loved were constantly putting aside their own health and happiness. There'd be interventions, loving advice, attempts to guide them towards a better lifestyle. But when it's ourselves, we degrade our own needs to the point of neglect if not outright abuse.

Our world is a fascinating place, and every time we seek out to make ourselves more a part of it, our lives become richer, deeper. We also enrich the lives of those around us, and inspire others to delve more into the world. Like the classic airplane safety demonstration, we have to put our own masks on first. Someone deadened to life's disappointments can only breed that same resignation in others. So this year, as you focus on what you want is the dawn of 2016, focus less on what you want and more on how to get it. Be selfish.