The whole “self-interest” versus “enlightened self-interest” thing has been on my mind a lot these past months, guess it has something to do with the once great United States of American entering the America first, foremost and always era, lead by a gold plated asshole.
But, lets not digress, this afternoon I wrote some notes while out with the dog and musing on my little horse shed. Looking at the words now, I kinda like it. Definitely rough but that’s how they start. I’m putting it out here, because I’m curious to see if anyone has anything interesting to add.
Self-interest is our survival imperative
It’s our first order me, myself, and I concern.
I like most people who live a considered life, developed a personal code of ethics that I wanted to live by. I also had a few basic goals that I wanted to strive for. Then I set my life in a direction that would best allow for the fulfillment of those dreams.
But, there’s more to life than me, myself and I. It’s my parents and siblings, and my parents siblings, and all their children, then come the neighbors and friends and tradesmen and merchants we deal with day to day. The community we live in.
We are born, we are young and grow gaining experiences and knowledge and hopefully a few insights. First it’s all about discovering ourselves and realizing who we are, the self-interested stuff.
But, with the years we discover ourselves as part of something bigger, a community and here most realize there’s a need for something other than pure self-interest. One learns to appreciate that we need each other not just to keep ourselves honest, but to live a fulfilling life.
Enlightened self-interest takes you to a reality where you consider your impact on the greater community.
One doesn’t get hung up on their own personal absolutism, self-certainty, because it turns out that if you deal fair and square with people, well, what goes around comes around.
When I put in the extra effort to do a challenging job right, or if I deduct hours from my bill because I had to spend time fixing my own mistake, or I wound up dragging ass and not accomplished as much as I should have. That’s no skin off my nose (well, yes at that moment) but people notice and like it and respect me and know they can trust me because of a long track record in this community. I’m a nice guy because I’m naturally a nice guy, but I also appreciate that it’s a tool to further my own self-interest - because by holding others-interest pretty much in the same regard as my own - I’ve been rewarded over and over again. Of course, it also helps not to be greedy, a minimalist attitude definitely provides more promise for a sane life.