The other day somebody described me as being selfless. I was very thankful and very appreciative of the compliment. However, while I was driving in my car to work, I started thinking deeper about the construct of the word and that’s when I realized… I do not like the word selfless. Not because of what the word means to people, but because of how the word sounds. The word “less” is a negative word and I do not like negative words. I also very much like myself and, therefore, feel that a word that combines “less” with “self” used to describe me makes me feel a little “less” happy inside. So then I went ahead and looked up the definition of selfless on the internet. According to the free online dictionary, selfless means, “having, exhibiting, or motivated by no concern for oneself”. To me this implies that someone who is selfless takes action (makes decisions, gives to others, etc…) at the expense of oneself. To me that just sounds like unhealthy behavior.
That being said, I also do not like the word selfish. According to the free online dictionary selfish means, “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure”. To me this implies that someone who is selfish has very few friends. That also sounds like unhealthy behavior.
So at that point I decided I would just have to come up with my own word that combines the best qualities of both words. After bouncing back and forth a few ideas, I came to the conclusion that I like the word “self-full”. My definition of “self-full” is, “one who takes action (makes decisions, gives to others, etc…) for the well being of themselves as well as those around them”. This is a word that contains no negative connotation towards anybody. I believe that this is the type of characteristic that promotes a happy and healthy lifestyle.
Now, how might one distinguish between someone who is selfless and someone who is “self-full”, you ask? Well, I think of it something like this. The physical action of the two people might be the same, but the mentality behind it will be different. For example, you have all heard that the optimist drinks his/her glass “half-full” and the pessimist drinks the glass “half-empty”. Well I imagine that the selfless person would give a thirsty friend a “half-empty” cup of water while the “self-full” person would give a thirsty friend a “half-full” cup of water. The action is the same, but the self-full person feels genuinely positive about the experience. It gives them joy to give their friend a cup of half full water. The self-full person is not giving the cup to his friend at the expense of his own well being, but is doing it because it makes him happy. With a half-empty mindset, the selfless person probably feels they are making a big sacrifice when giving to others. It hurts their well-being to perform this action. In the self-full scenario, everybody gains something.
A good real life example of someone who is selfless is the overweight nurse with high blood pressure. She spends most of her life taking care of others and virtually none of it taking care of herself. I am by no means saying that this nurse is not proud of what she is doing and that she should not be doing it, but I am saying that I believe she can be a more effective nurse if she also took care of herself. Perhaps the self-full nurse would receive motivation to keep herself healthy in her efforts to help others. I believe that the healthiest, happiest, most efficient, and best lifestyle for your well-being is the “self-full” one. =D