How would you feel if I were to say that selfishness is a good thing? Would you think I’m some sort of Gordon Gekko clone reciting a watered down version of his ‘greed is good’ mantra? Well this piece isn’t about selfishness or greed in the traditional sense. It’s about the true nature of the law of attraction and human nature.
When you really examine human nature you’ve got to realize that everyone always acts in a way they feel will benefit them most. That might be on a conscious or unconscious level, but it’s true . Here’s a question for you that might bring all of this constructive selfishness stuff into perspective. Do you like to feel good?
We All Want The Same Things
With very few exceptions, the answer would be a resounding yes. We all like to feel good. Okay, so the next question is, what makes you feel good? The answers will vary but I’m going to stick to some very simple concepts here.
I like to witness new life. Whether it be a puppy, a kitten, an awkward, fuzzy baby chick or a newborn baby. Fresh, new, completely ‘clean slate’ creatures do something special for me. Seeing that innocence just makes me feel great. So when I’m out and about and I see a baby at the mall or sitting in a shopping cart with mom I take notice. And sometimes I’ll try and get that baby to smile. And when she does smile, it lights up my day.
Now you might think I’m easily amused and perhaps you’re right but smiles make me feel great. Is it selfish to go out and seek out smiling people? You can answer that for yourself. It isn’t that I don’t have anything better to do either. But if you’ve got to live your life among others, doesn’t it make sense to try and stay on the bright side when relating to them?
Sometimes I walk on a Florida beach. Sometimes the beach is fairly crowded and sometimes it’s not. When I walk along I’ll almost always see people with cameras. Some are tourists and some locals. From time to time I’ll stop to say hello and offer to take their picture. A few decline the offer but more often people are glad to get a picture with everyone in their party included.
And guess what? Most of them light up with a smile at the offer. And that really makes me feel good. And what did that good feeling cost me? Not much, maybe a minute of my time. Some might say that’s a random act of kindness and I guess I’d agree. But there’s no doubt that I’m getting something from it too. I get to feel good for a few minutes. And when you string a lot of those experiences together you've got something really nice going.
The Law of Attraction
The law of attraction is a very simple concept and probably one of the foundational laws of the universe if not the prime mover. Billions of words have been written on the subject but it’s not really hard to get it. The Golden Rule sort of sums it all up but I think people sometimes have trouble with the Ole English flavor of the Golden rule. You know, do unto others… It sounds kind of stuffy.
There’s a variation of the Golden Rule that makes more sense and even little children understand it right off. It goes like this: Whatever you do, you do to yourself. Wow! That’s so powerful and it’s the absolute, non-negotiable truth. And it’s a perfect example of the law of attraction in action. Your life experience is based upon your dominant thoughts and actions. Years ago Earl Nightingale said it in much simpler terms: You become what you think about.
The Kindness Pool
So if it’s true that we become our dominant thoughts and beliefs, and it really is, and you want good things in your life, doesn’t it make sense to be about good things? I think so. I came up with an idea a while back called the kindness pool. And since no one has actually figured out the quantifiable and detailed mechanics of the law of attraction, the kindness pool concept isn’t easily measured either. But still it helps with our understanding because it allows us to be aware of the results of our actions.
As often as possible it’s really cool to do something nice without being asked or forced. It might be something as simple as getting a baby to smile or giving a couple of bucks to someone who appears hungry. And every time you do something like that you make a deposit to the kindness pool. I realize it might seem insensitive to put it in such ‘tit for tat’ terms but sometimes fleshing out up an idea with practical real-life action helps to give that idea meaning.
Now I’m not suggesting people should go around keeping tabs on their random acts of kindness. That would be tacky. It’s just that realistic action helps to make sense of and validate such an important law. And the beauty of doing admirable things is that they come back to the source, you. And if that’s not enough, they also give you an instant happiness rush. That’s the law in a nutshell.
Remember? Whatever you do, you do to yourself. Of course it works in the other direction as well with random (or deliberate) acts of nastiness. And isn’t it nice to know that when you’ve contributed generously to the kindness pool that there will be something good for you there when you need it? Yep. I believe it’s true . Constructive selfishness. What a concept!
Charles Steed has been a student of human development for more than 20 years and has written extensively on the topic. He’s been a master practitioner of NLP since 2002.