How to Battle the Ubiquity of Self-Interest!

Sometimes it seems as though we live in a world that is filled with mirrors and void of windows. People gaze into the pane of self-interest so long and intently that they are oblivious to the needs and feelings of others, becoming infected with the “Disease of Me” and crowning themselves as the center of their own self-absorbed universe. The pervasiveness of spoiled, selfish, entitled brats from all ages and social classes has made me particularly grateful for some “little things” that, are no longer little in today’s world. I’m sure that you can add many of your own to rally around, but here’s a start: 

  1. I appreciate the graduates who take the time to send a prompt thank you note for the gift they solicited with an announcement to a ceremony they knew I’d never attend.
  2. I am grateful for the customers who take the time to acknowledge receipt of the help or suggestions I send them when they request it through email. Over the years, this courtesy has become incredibly rare.
  3. I thank the ladies and gentlemen who can refrain from taking a phone call or playing with their text messages while conversing with me.
  4. I tip my hat to the parents who still teach their kids to say, “sir”, “ma’am”, “excuse me”, “please” and “thank you”.
  5. I respect the member of any team that is willing to subordinate his own comfort and personal agenda to the welfare of the overall unit.
  6. I value the friend or relative that makes contact with me just to talk or see how we’re doing and not because they want something.
  7. I enjoy the occasional conversation where the other party stops talking about themselves long enough to let me help turn their monologue into a dialogue.
  8. I esteem the vendor that can apologize and take responsibility when they screw up and not make it appear as though their incompetence is something I should learn to live with.

While you and I cannot control whether or not others behave in the positive manner I’ve outlined in these points, we can do two things to encourage more of these behaviors and battle the ubiquity of self-interest. We can demonstrate behaviors like these personally and acknowledge, commend and reinforce considerate and unselfish people at work, home and elsewhere that demonstrate gratitude, respect and old fashioned courtesy. In times past, complimenting these behaviors would seem unnecessary since they were expected, common place and considered as the social norm. But the norms have changed and acceptable behavioral standards have diminished to a level of insensitivity and ungraciousness which prior generations could not have fathomed. But you can and must do more than complain about the selfish behavior of others. To combat the ubiquity of self-interest, you must be the person that you want to see more of in others.

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