I found this wonderful section in ‘With Folded Wings’ by Edward & Betty White and it gave me food for thought.
“Your first duty in development, not only for your own sake but for the sake of the greater whole, is the establishment of a homogeneous, close-knit, invulnerable core of yourself as an individual. Until you have so established a centre or nucleus, no matter how small, in which your conviction is absolute that it is the germ centre of yourself as a separate eternal entity in cosmos, any venturing outside your boundaries is unwarranted and will inevitably prove more or less disastrous.”
“Here is a truth so profound and yet so simply stated that I would have it in a separate paragraph:”
“Outgiving is never constructively effective unless it is in overflow.”
To understand this reading better I need you to imagine yourself as a power generator. You are such a brilliant little generator that you can light your own house and you aren’t even running at half speed yet. I could also plug next doors lights into your circuit and you wouldn’t notice any dimming of the lights in your house. You are overflowing with so much energy that helping others is a natural outcome for you.
Now I want you to imagine that you aren’t that efficient. You have been neglected for a while and you are starting to rust up. Compared to the other generator you can’t fully light your own house, even running at full speed. If then plugged you back into your neighbours circuit then your house would get darker and darker. Eventually you would blow up. If that happened then you wouldn’t be able to help anyone.
The book went on to say;
“You may out-give by pumping up, generally with the suction of what is expected, or the proper thing, or the duty, or the obligation to the world or humanity, general or specific. But pumping up always means depletion; depletion means vacuum; and vacuum is a vortex of attraction for the destructive. Overflow, on the other hand, is a superabundance that leaves no lack behind it, but still the filled reservoir of accomplishment. When you rush forth to give, driven by your natural instincts of sympathy, of desire to reconstruct, of sensitivity to conditions, pause to consider whether you are leaving your territory unoccupied, open to an invasion that ultimately is going to make you ineffective. Your responsibility as a component part of the greater whole is primarily yourself, and only secondarily that which you accomplish outside yourself. That the secondary may be important is acknowledged, but it is impossible that it should be aught but ephemeral if the primary is not a solid reality. In this sense it is your business to be selfish, in the shining aspect of that word. And the great paradox is that the shining use of selfishness enables you to be effectively, and without disintegration, what the world calls ‘unselfish.”
So, the motto here is – It’s good to be selfish. Especially when it ultimately helps you to be unselfish.
If you can’t take that one board then try this one. If you’re a power generator then it’s good to get well oiled occasionally 🙂