Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thinking About Yourself is Not Selfish

If there's anything I've learned in the last six years of being an "adult," it's that you should always do what is best for you. It can be hard to figure out exactly what that is, but sometimes you just know.  I certainly believe in listening to and taking into account the advice of trusted friends and family, but in the end the decisions you make in life are yours. They affect you, not your friends and family (usually).  It's not just about being happy (although that's certainly a goal) but it's about choosing your path and creating the life that you want for yourself. That "dream" life will look different for different people and that's okay

Some people might want to travel the world and never "settle down." Some people want to be stay at home moms. Some people want to be activists for causes they care about. Some people just want to get out of poverty and take care of their families.  It's not selfish to realize what you want and then go for it. Thinking about yourself is not selfish. Everyone has outside influences trying to lead you in a certain path. "You need this." "Buy this." "You should do this." "This will make you happy."

It can be hard to tune it all out, and really be introspective and think, "What actually IS best for me?" What actually WILL make me happy, not just today but in the long run?"  
For me that means I'm not going to have babies to make other people happy. I'm not going to move to make other people happy. I'm not going to spend money I don't have to make other people happy. I'm not going to go to church to make other people happy. I'm not going to get dogs instead of cats to make other people happy. You get the idea.

Thinking about yourself is not mutually exclusive from thinking about others. Our relationships in life, not things, are what make life worth living. Life is short and it is precious.

I don't have much to say at this moment about the tragic events in Newtown, CT because there are no words. I certainly do have opinions on things like gun control, children being interviewed on television, and prominent people in the media saying that this wouldn't have happened if we had prayer in public schools.

Maybe I'll get into that in another post, maybe not. I don't judge other people for stating their opinions. I read this week that "Politics is the system we use to solve social problems. We have a problem. To ban political talk is asinine." 
But for now, for me, I'm reflecting on the sad and tragic fact that 26 people lost their lives in a horrific way. Many of whom were small children. As President Obama said, "they had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own." 

To be honest, it was hard to reflect on what a tragedy this was when I first heard about it at work. It was, briefly, another news event. "20 people died today." It was after I read and heard about what actually took place, heard the personal stories of violence and also of heroism, and realized that an elementary school is no longer a safe place, that I really internalized and understood.

Next week most of us will move on with our lives, our Christmas celebrations, and our daily routines. I don't think it's selfish to think about our own lives as long as we realize what a gift it is. We can remember that there are those whose lives were tragically cut short - in Newtown, CT, in war, in gang violence, etc., etc. We can do our best to show comfort and love to those who are hurting. We can send our love, our prayers, our thoughts. We can hug our families and be thankful for them. We can choose to live lives of integrity and honor. We choose our own paths.

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