Being Selfish


“Be selfish in order to make others happy”

I almost always stay true to this statement. It was something I came up with when I was in Form Two. Be selfish in order to make others happy. It’s a contradiction, I know, but it doesn’t stray far from being right. Or should I use the term ‘correct’ here? Yeah, correct sounds better. You could say that this is my life motto and one of the principles I hold onto. Although being a contradiction, it perfectly embodies the spirit of us being humans. We are beings made of contradictions, after all. Our core is full of it. So I thought, better follow the flow and act in accordance to it then.

Two things that pushed me towards coming to this conclusion of a motto. First is betrayal. Second is the human nature. We seldom make everyone around us happy. No matter what we do, there’s always something wrong with it in someone’s eyes. Some will ignore this for the sake of their mental health. They’ll live their lives and say suck it, you don’t like it, buzz off. I don’t. I take it to another level where I acknowledge their dissatisfaction with me or my actions, then say sorry, but in times like these, hierarchy takes precedence over whom I’d have to satisfy first. And on the top of the list is me, myself, I. Humans are egotistical beings, so I’d rather not lose energy to be hypocrite about it. I am my world’s centre. So is the case for everyone. They are their world’s centre. So when happiness is a limited resource, I’ll choose to spend it on myself. If I can’t make everyone happy, I’ll at least make myself happy. It may sound selfish. In fact, it is selfish to do so. But do bear in mind. A happy you is better than a sad or grumpy or depressed you. You can do wonders when you’re happy, and automatically spread that little happiness around. That is why I decided to put myself on the top of the list. My selfishness is so that the maximum number of people around me can taste what little happiness there is that is at my disposal.

The former point, betrayal, had taught me to not have faith in humanity. Or at least people. Humanity is a big word, a big concept while people are just people, so let’s go with people. No matter how close you are to someone, there’s always something you don’t know about them. There’s always an X factor that you don’t even know existed in him/her that may topple the trust and expectations you have on him/her. There’s always a deep dark secret within their hearts that you don’t know. So the solution to this is to not misplace your trust, to minimize betrayal. Or at least if you are betrayed, you came prepared. I’m not asking people to be paranoid. Well, it is a form of paranoia, but a controlled form. It aligns with another principle I hold. Be optimistic and pessimistic at the same time. Expect something from someone, but expect to have that expectation shattered to bits. You’ll get hurt once it happens, but at least you are aware of the possibility. So, in planning to put your expectation on others, the focal point to always bear in mind is your own happiness, your own gain and losses. Be selfish in order to make things work out, maximizing happiness and satisfaction output, and minimizing hurt and tears should things not work out as expected.

In short, be selfish in order to make others happy.

These two points are always clear in my mind since the day I thought of holding on to this motto o’mine. I always thought that that was the fundamental of my motto. I was wrong. A moment of epiphany can strike at weird times. Mine was while taking a huge dump this morning. My mind was occupied by two things just now: the Zahra girl and the Low Yat incident. Frankly speaking, I can’t bear watching the Zahra video. 5 seconds in, I was pretty sure we do not see eye to eye. Zahra became a huge hit with the netizens of Malaysia, especially with those millennials, otherwise known as Gen Y-ers. The video is said to represent the majority unheard voice of the young oppressed by the dire economic strains nowadays. She has a point, but I don’t know what really ticked me off. Well, I was barely 5 seconds into the video, never finished it, but got the feeling that she holds views that I cannot accept. Was it her tone? Her script? Yeah, maybe her tone and script. Since it was scripted and her intonation is one of hypocrisy, it made me furious to know that a lot of youngsters look up to this. It is from her intonation that I get the feeling that this is another one who wish for the winds of change to grace us, but never took steps to be the change itself. Nevertheless, I commend her bravery and straightforwardness. She got balls.

Later on, I found out bits and pieces of details of her speech. The majority Gen Y-ers support her, yet a bulk of Gen X-ers beg to differ. I’ll leave it up to you to know what are Gen X and Gen Y. The sad, sad thing when their views collide is that the (online) more vocal Gen Y-ers tend to belittle and berate the Gen X-ers. This is a very sad thing to see because it implies favoritism, which will lead to biased thoughts. The Gen Y-ers are in support of Zahra, implying support in her freedom of expression, yet at the same time deny the same right to be given upon the Gen X-ers. If it is a right, it should be for everyone, not selective to your cause only. Furthermore, it’s just a view, a train of thought. If you don’t like it, so be it. Nobody should force their views on others. So nobody should’ve retaliate in a demeaning way. You don’t like it, don’t subscribe to it. It saves energy and mental health. Don’t spend it on menial things like difference in view. If the whole human race has only one opinion, the world will be a dull and boring place. So embrace difference, acknowledge it, and go on with our petty lives.

The Low Yat incident, on the other hand, shows another dark side of our society which is still in its maturation process. Yes, I think that our society hasn’t reach the point of maturation which may be an unpopular opinion because muh society has computers and all. Well, computers and degrees don’t make you smarter. Sorry about that, sir. Reading the news about it, the racial remarks and comments on Facebook and on Youtube, the speculation, the finger-pointing, made me remember a line from a game I played four years ago. It was Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2. The line was from the character Haman Karn, and I quote “No matter how weak individually, a mob represents a threat”. Haman’s words are true to the core. A mob represents a threat. That is proven right by the Low Yat incident. Problematic individuals escalated into a racial strife. At what cost? Why did this happen? I can sum this up into two words: Mob thinking. I’ve read about mob thinking before, but can’t remember where. The problem with mob thinking is that a cluster of people, namely a mob (not necessarily with a negative connotation in this case) tend to ‘think’ that the actions taken by them are right, without even actually thinking. Mob thinking subdues the rational in people and replace thought process with feeling born out of a spirit of kinship with others sharing a cause or a mutual ‘enemy’. It dumbs down people to herd nature, like stampeding buffaloes following a path just because. Hence the irrational hate remarks. It happened before. The London Riots in 2011 saw people who are normally morally correct do crimes such as petty theft and break-ins. Why did they do it? Mob thinking. The Charlie Hebdo solidarity in so-called name of freedom of speech, which is pretty biased. People tend to do hateful, shameful, and downright dumb things because of mob thinking.

These two incidents, albeit having little in common, except for trending at the same time, made me realize something. Hence the epiphany. It somehow gave a fundamental reasoning to my motto. Be selfish in order to make others happy is none other than a means of self-gratification. Why did the Gen Y-ers support Zahra? Because it meant something to them. It means they have been acknowledge. Gratification has been given. The Low Yat incident? Why did everyone wants to jump the bandwagon? So that they can say they are a part of a movement. Again, to feel important. Self-gratification. All these three, my motto included, is a form of self-gratification, a yearning present in all humans, a yearning to be acknowledged, to be happy, yet it sometimes becomes so convoluted, so twisted that in the process it hurts people. We all have this subtle narcissism inside us.

So, my motto was all along a form of narcissism? Wow! A very long way to explain why we do what we do, including what I do. But, in the end, whilst still sitting on the toilet, I came to appreciate the wisdom God had given us, and came to love the human race more than ever. So, despite the chaos around us, I opt to be selfish and dwell in my own thoughts and come up with this conclusion and make myself happy without considering others right now. I hate and love this kind of chaos that provokes the mind. Damn, I’m twisted.

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Being Selfish

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