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Blog Post from February 09, 2020

Giving Away Too Much

Selfishness can be bad in many contexts, but embracing it in the right away is one of the most selfless things we can (and should) do.

Self-care pops up in my conversations a lot, especially among web developers. I think it’s out of necessity due to what American culture does to burn out the youth, but that’s for another day.

A couple of times this topic came up, and people described themselves as “givers.” They give to other people until there’s little left for themselves. Even if they have some regrets in hindsight.

I’m not here to write people shouldn’t be givers. Givers help make the world worth living in. But I am writing that, even for these givers, humans need to be a little selfish for two reasons.

  1. Helping others to the point where we can’t help ourselves is counter-intuitive. If we burn out and crumble by helping others, we can’t help anymore and everyone suffers long-term.
  2. For each person, we’re the only ones who will always have our interests first at heart. No one else will take care of ourselves before anyone else. So our selfishness helps us do a job only we can do. Even the biggest altruist will need to find themselves a meal and bed.

One tweet summarizes this well: Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm.

Giving is great, but it hurts others when one gives so much they can’t give anymore. Selfishness helps them keep themselves going. They can give more in the future, which multiples the positive effects they have for the world.

I could end things there, but someone has inspired me to write some poetry today…


Deprive

Drive a car towards your home, thinking only of your family.
Ignore the fuel, ignore the stops, ignore the rest.
Think only of your family seeing you as soon.
Sputter out at the final goal and all are alone.

Drive a car towards your home, thinking of you and your family.
Take the fuel, take the stops, take the rest.
Think of keeping yourself healthy to meet their smiles.
Reach the goal and you are all at joy together.

Give to your family. Give to your friends. Give to yourself
You are your family and you are your friends.
The health you give is also the health you deserve.
Don’t deprive others of the gift of you.