At first glance, the title above just doesn’t make any sense. How can you be selfish and still focused on the well-being of others? In my opinion, with some explanations, the two interweave nicely together.
To me, empathy means being your brother’s keeper, especially those worse off than you are. This attitude is what originally attracted me to Christianity. Helping others just seemed like what that religion was all about. But, then I got a serious glimpse of the current reality. I still stick to the words of Jesus, but I no longer call myself a Christian. I will leave that statement to stand and move on to the topic above.
I love this definition of a person with total empathy.
Empathy – A person who can’t be happy until everyone is happy
Sometimes I feel that way, but I have come to realize that if I am not happy, it’s hard to help others with happiness. Without personal happiness, it’s kinda like the blind leading the blind. Too many periods in my life, I seemed to have forgotten what it is like to be happy. We are social animals, and for most, our social circles are the source for much of our happiness. I basically have very little of that.
Being someone with Aspie traits, things social just don’t come naturally to me. I have always felt like the odd-man-out when it comes to dealing with groups of people. That anxiety has often tainted my overall happiness. But I gladly have had lucid periods where happiness shines through. I am working now to make those periods come more often. When I am happy with my life, as challenging as it has been, my self endowed empathy becomes stronger. I like that.
All of us have a right to a “happy” life. It is even embedded into our U.S. Constitution. To have a happy life, you must be secure in your feelings about yourself. If what you do is not who you are, a happy life will never come. You must take care of yourself, before you can have empathy towards others.
Getting back to the title of the post, it seems my level of empathy is directly related to my personal happiness. So, if I want to be a more emphatic person, I need to be selfish in seeking personal happiness. But we must realize that happiness doesn’t depend on stuff, so I am not talking about having all the stuff I might covet. The reality is quite the opposite of that.