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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Selfishness - The Route to Unhappiness - #ThinkyThursdays 2

Welcome to Thinky Thursdays 2. This is the day I just muse on a topic that happens to be in my brain and today I have chosen selfishness.

Selfishness - The Route to Unhappiness

I abhor inherently selfish people. This is not to say we are not all selfish in some way or another, it's the way we are designed :), I'm talking about the people who seem to go through life thinking only of themselves and not caring how their actions affect others. There are big things, like bankers and politicians, but today I'm considering more of smaller, more personal instances.

These thoughts actually stemmed from reading a headline in the local paper the other day about how the authorities are clamping down on people who use a disabled spot without having a blue badge. They are finally fining people for it. It really, really annoys me to see perfectly able bodied people using disabled spots just because they can't be bothered to walk a few metres more to the door of the shop.

I would like to make one proviso to this. If the car has a blue badge then they have a right to park there. I don't care if a person might look completely able bodied - don't judge them on what you think you see. There are some disabilities that are invisible and if they have the badge they need it. 

I'm talking about the people who have no badge and just park there anyway.

The big space, close to the shop might make it a little bit easier for you, a little quicker, but to a disabled person that can mean the difference between even getting out of the car or not. The spaces are wide for very good reasons. The distance can also make the difference between a little pain and a lot. It might seem insignificant to an able bodied person, but 100 yards can be an incredibly long way for someone in pain.

Other examples of selfishness that drive me batty include:
  • queue jumping, 
  • pushing past someone to get to something, 
  • allowing doors to smack into the person behind, 
  • parking badly for no reason other than you can't be bothered and blocking other people, 
  • taking both of the last items on the shelf when someone else is reaching for the second one, 
  • nipping in to the parking space when someone is clearly trying to reverse into it,
  • eating a whole packet of sweets without offering a single one round
I could go on. These may seem like very small things and we're all guilty of similar instances occasionally, but it's when life becomes full of these things that I think they become a problem.

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In my experience, people who are entirely self-centred and selfish in their lives are not overly happy.

When life is all 'me me me me' it seems to me it must be incredibly stressful. It is impossible to be totally happy and fulfilled within yourself at all times. You don't always get what you want. Life is not always sunshine and roses. Those who think of others have something else to take joy in, to be comforted by. We are gregarious animals, we pick up happiness from others, but if we are only focused on ourselves we miss out on this.

Making others happy can make us happy too. I'll never forget talking to a friend who said one Christmas she was bored and sad because she was on her own, so she went to the local soup kitchen to volunteer and it was the best Christmas she had had since she was a child. Helping others helped her.

I think most people are good at heart. You only have to look at the pay-it-forward schemes that thrive in some places and the work of aid agencies, but so much of the media seems to scream take-take-take.

We all need to be selfish at times, it's healthy, but when that overflows into carelessness towards others I think a line is crossed. That way lies loneliness and unhappiness. I'm always amazed by how good it feels to see the person smile where I just paused so they could get past the errant trolley in the supermarket . It didn't cost me most than a couple of seconds and yet gave back so much. That has to be better than the person rushing through, cutting people off just to save themselves a minute at the checkout, right?

What acts of petty selfishness drive you potty? How do you enjoy making others' lives better?


  1. I would never, ever park in a handicapped spot, and it drives me bonkers when people do it!

    But, I have a few new pet peeves since coming to Japan... bizarre, since they are known to be so polite, but I can NOT stand in line at my supermarket without a woman cutting in front of me without making eye contact. Now, I am actually pretty generous; if someone has fewer items than me to buy, I usually encourage them to go first... but these women just flat out ignore the foreigner (it really feels like I become the proverbial elephant in the room)....

    That, and people who park their cars at INTERSECTIONS. In the traffic lane! It's so dangerous, and really selfish. :(

    1. That sounds like it would be most annoying and a little soul destroying too.

      Intersections - people park at intersections? Wow.


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