From bedtime stories to movies, we have been taught that selfishness is at the heart of all the bad in this world. It’s always the selfish guy who has been left alone at the end, whereas a kind and selfless dude gives everything and gets happiness in return. This brand of selflessness taken from movies and fairytales makes us feel imperfect, and we search for answers in the quest of how to be less selfish.
On the other side, few happiness experts say it’s okay to be a little bit selfish. It’s all a mix-match, and it leaves you clueless to decide being selfish is good or being selfless is the right path. To make things further difficult, they tell you that there are different levels of selfishness, such as too bad, good, and too good selfishness. Tired of this counterfeit and bogus definition? Me too.
This is utterly confusing; you don’t know what to do when you realize you’re selfish. Should you cut down your selfishness? How much? How to measure it? And what’s the best level of selfishness? Isn’t all these questions are funny?
If you’re confused, it’s not your fault. There is no such ‘good selfishness,’ be absolutely clear about it regardless of how many happiness experts tell you about ‘good selfishness.’ There is no such thing. It’s only selfishness, and it isn’t good on any level. You should get rid of it entirely.
To be selfish or selfless, what to become?
In reality, both ways of living aren’t good for anyone. The main difference between selfish and selfless is that selfish people always put their own needs ahead of others while selfless people put others’ needs ahead of their own. Being selfish means that others have to suffer from your behavior, including your family and friends. Whereas being selfless means that you have to suffer every time because you’re giving too much at the cost of your own choices and happiness. Therefore you need to find a middle ground where the colors of your personality shouldn’t get blurred. In addition, others enjoy your company, appreciate you for being yourself, and turn to you whenever they smack themselves in the middle of a problem.
But what to do when you realize you’re selfish? Your friends and colleagues give you clues that you’re selfish, or perhaps your close friends and partner will start complaining that you’ve become self-centric. If you’re getting such responses frequently, and your own self-analysis verifies their assessment about you, then you must need to be less selfish. Later, you’ll be able to remove this negative trait entirely from your personality.
5 Tips on how to be less selfish
There are some easy fixes to begin the journey. I’ll be showing experts-approved 5 tips on how to be less selfish. Bring these tips into your life for a week, and the results will leave you astonished.
1. Let others become first
Your friends know that it’s you who’s going to play music in the car first, and their turn comes afterward. Your better half and siblings know that when you’re in the room, the TV remote must be in your hand, and you’ll not watch anything of their choice. When visiting a restaurant, you always decide the place, menu, and time.
Change it for a week. Let others take control. It’s extremely hard if you’re a control freak and want to influence each and everything happening around you.
The benefit of letting others takeover is that they feel a positive change in you, and they start paying more attention to you. While in your own mind, it gives you the satisfaction that people around you feel happy because of you. Gradually, you’ll learn the art of implementing your own things on others sometimes and accepting others’ decisions most of the time. Consequently, you start killing your selfishness.
2. Start sharing
Once a Wiseman said, “things are for use, and people are for love. The problem is that we’ve started using people and loving things”.
The things that are close to your heart, for instance, money, car, or anything else, start sharing those with others. Well, if you think it’s hard to share a hefty amount or expensive possession like a car, start with your favorite pen. Lend a little money to your friend who needs it. Charity is another means to be less selfish in life.
You can think of those things you love most and can’t share. After identifying such things (cheap or expensive), start sharing them. Do it for a week; ultimately, your mind develops the sense that sharing is caring. And as a result, you become less selfish and possessive because of this habit.
3. Listen to others attentively
Everyone wants to be heard. And everyone knows when the other person is just listening for the sake of listening. Be different. Remember your last conversation? Weren’t you preparing your response while another person was speaking? Or if you didn’t have any interest in the topic, you must have had your eyes on the mobile screen. Where was active listening? We usually listen to respond or don’t focus if we have no interest in the topic. Consequently, we interrupt the speaker consistently, break his train of thoughts, awkwardly change the subject, and start speaking ourselves. This is a big sign of selfishness, and this makes you an unfavorite conversationist.
Active listening is the easiest way to make friends and influence people. But what does active listening mean?
- Don’t cut off the speaker while he’s talking. Even if you know, he’s wrong, quoting incorrect facts, or arguing falsely.
- Look at the speaker and show that you’re listening passionately through your body language, nodding, and humming.
- Ask thoughtful questions and reflect on what you just heard. For instance… “What does it mean?”, “You were saying that….”
- Don’t negate the speaker outrightly. Be respectful when disagreeing and assert your opinion by taking a few things of the speaker in your argument. For instance… “I agree with you on this point…” “well, you’re right to some extent, but my take on this is….”
When you practice active listening, you will figure out that others start asking about yourself, discuss topics that fascinate you, and they’ll listen in the same way you did. That’s where you become a likable conversationalist. Active listening will win you friends and earn you respect. Most critically, you become less selfish in the conversation and increase your tolerance level.
4. Pick up the phone and kill your ego
You have a list of friends, cousins, and relatives that haven’t been in touch for a long time. Either you’re too caught up or have differences; somehow, you’ve lost them. Pick up the phone and send them a text.
Give them a call and check in on how they have been. Your ego, such as “why would I do that” and “it doesn’t look good,” will come in your way. Crush it and talk to them. This would help you to feel good and become less selfish.
If they’ve accomplished something in life, for example, they recently promoted or got married, or perhaps have gone abroad, take advantage of the situation and congratulate them.
Restoring your old bond is one of the best ways to be less selfish in the relationship. This way, you’re perceived as someone who’s gentle, lovely, and kind-hearted. This ultimately helps you to be less selfish and more likable.
5. Wave, compliment, and give little gifts
Think of those people who get in contact with you every day, but it’s once in a blue moon that you say hello to each other. They can be the bus driver, neighbor, or colleague from a different department. Who knows they’re having a bad day, and your wave or hello makes their day? If possible, have a 2-minute conversation with ten people in a day. Those 20 minutes will certainly help you to be less selfish once you realize that you’re becoming selfish. During 2-minute conversation, give honest compliments. For example, “Woah, you’re wearing beautiful shirt!” or “wow! Your puppy is so cute”.
Go further, give little gifts to those around you, but you haven’t been able to thank them. Small tokens like a book, pen, and souvenir will go a long way. This will not only brighten their day, but it’ll also get you out of your head. Because to think about gifts, you have to think about others, their likings, and consider their choices. So your brain’s energy is well-spent in search of how to be less selfish in life and relationships.
Our lives are an endless race, and while we’re running fast, people around us feel that we’ve been changed. Old friends slowly create distance, colleagues reduce their interaction, and family feels that we’re not giving them enough importance. Don’t get mad at such complaints. It’s very easy to say that they don’t understand what we’re trying to do, however, in reality we’re only seeing our so-called money-centric goals and neglecting them unintentionally. These are signs of selfishness, and it’s time to be less selfish in life and relationships. These 5 tips on how to be less selfish will deliver you happiness that being materialistic can’t get you in life. Maintain the right balance between selflessness and selfishness, and you’ll be delighted with the results.