Be Selfless, If Only for Selfish Reasons. Be Selfish, If Only for Selfless Reasons.

From Further Secrets of Adulthood: Be selfless, if only for selfish reasons; be selfish, if only for selfless reasons.

This is a variation of my Second Splendid Truth about Happiness:

One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy;
One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

I have Eight Splendid Truths, in all. (I was inspired by the numbered lists that pop up throughout Buddhism: the Triple Refuge, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths, the eight auspicious symbols, I decided to dub my fundamental happiness principles as my Eight Splendid Truths. ) You can read them all here.

What do you think? Agree, disagree?


  • Yes, I so agree! I remember a woman talking about how hard it was to get her mom to pick out a restaurant she liked for Mother’s Day–the mom kept saying, “I just want to go where you guys want to go.” And they kept saying, “But we want to go where you want to go!” How happy it would have made them for her to be selflessly selfish and just pick a place.

  • Irene

    I’ll say, maybe. For me, this is about boundaries. I’ve lost myself in being selfless for the happiness of others. In learning new boundaries, I’ve become a happier person. Others are not so happy with me.

  • Sophia

    I tend to use self interest or self care instead of selfish because of the connotations that don’t really apply.

  • fakenewspapers

    So true. Just like the saying “You cannot share what you don’t have.” Spreading happiness and chear is impossible, if it doesn’t genuinely come from you. Thanks for the inspiring writeup! Keep them coming!

  • C

    Agree! In this current “selfie-stick, me generation, we sure do need more people acting SELFLESS! Thank you Gretchen for all you do to promote happiness and goodness. Happy Leap Day!!!!!! 2/29/16!

  • jason throop

    I also write quotes 2times