So many of us grow up with the statement of self sacrifice and putting others first, that we don’t know where to draw the line in our own lives. This may sound like heretical Me Generation propaganda, but it is true. Just because you help yourself doesn’t mean you forget everyone else – you just put yourself in the pictures, too.
I believe ion helping others, but I also know there are times when trying to please others hurts you and indirectly them, in the long run. It is like a boomerang. You have to throw it, it won’t throw itself. You have to be the nicest to yourself first in order to be nice to others. If I am not happy in what I am doing, I cannot be joyful and helpful to others around me.
When I had my first child, I started having all kinds of anxieties about my finances. Believe me, I sweated bullets! I had need a big house in great neighborhood and an even bigger bank account to afford college. I worried for months and months – I didn’t have any of these things. Where would they come from?
Then I started spending all my time trying to figure out how to make more money just to alleviate my anxiety. I began making most decision not because I thought they were right and I wanted to do them, but more because I thought they would make more money.
Soon work was less fun and I wasn’t making enough to live up to my expectations of a bright future for my kid. As a result, life was less fun, and I became less able to bring joy and laughter to those around me.
Then one day I began thinking about what I remember most about my father. It was never the house he provided, or money for college. It was the upbeat attitude and love we shared around the house that had the greatest impact on my life.
Right then and there I changed directions completely. I realized that my major duty to my children would not be to have the biggest house on the block, the nicest car, or a fat bank account. Instead, I decided to do work that I felt was important and meaningful, so that I could come home happy and share this with my family. They would remember me as the kind of father that was always around, trying new things, and staying curious about life.
I think this “me first” boomerang approach also works with almost all other personal relationships in life. If you do take care of your happiness and self-fulfillment first, you cannot be genuinely generous and caring with others. You simply won’t have the capacity or energy to give graciously of yourself. And that won’t help anyone.