It’s a common issue that those who dedicate their time to making others’ lives easier often feel dissatisfied where they are. While it feels wonderful to do good deeds and to know that you’re helping others, it’s that much better when you don’t need to sacrifice your own well-being simultaneously. When you put yourself first, you allow yourself to enjoy your own life, and in turn you will inspire others to do the same. Sometimes it’s okay—even necessary—to be selfish.
1. Focus on creating and cultivating your own happiness.
When you spend all your time focused on the happiness of those around you—whether you’re a parent trying to give your children the best possible life, a manager creating an ideal work environment for your employees, or simply someone who wants to see others happy—it’s much easier to neglect your own. To live the most fulfilling life possible, maximizing our happiness is key. You’ll be able to help your loved ones (and everyone else) infinitely more if you have a solid foundation of confidence and contentment. Though it may sound counterintuitive, the best possible way to spread positivity and joy to everyone around you is to put yourself first.
2. Set a good example.
It’s obvious when you start to contemplate it: everything you give to others radiates from you. You are the origin of the happiness you want to spread. If you’ve been trudging through life and failing to appreciate what you have, then your influence won’t inspire others to live any better than you do. Find things to love about life. (It’s easier than you think! Check out this article for a good place to start.) When you’re genuinely enjoying what the world has to offer, you’ll influence others to do the same. It’s a chain reaction that’ll spread out to many, many more people.
3. Face your own issues before you try to fix everyone else’s.
Look inwards, as well—are you focusing on others because you don’t want to help yourself? Are you in denial about something that’s wrong in your life, or do you have problems that you’re trying to run from? Everything will eventually surface, and the longer problems stay hidden, the more destructive they will be when they come out. It’s always scary to face things head-on, but it’s absolutely necessary if you truly want to live well. Don’t distract yourself by worrying about everyone else. Deal with your own problems first—I promise that life will be so much more peaceful when you do.
4. Watch out for the slippery slope of selflessness.
Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like to need to take care of everyone else. Certain individuals—parents, for instance—are wholly responsible for other human beings, and these people are often the ones who extrapolate that sense of responsibility onto everyone they know. Remember that it’s not your job to ensure that everyone is content at all times. The urge to make others happy is a great quality, but it isn’t always an obligation. If you’re overworking yourself trying to please everyone, you’re doing too much—and it’s more than likely that no one will end up happy. Step back for a moment. Who needs this initiative from you? Remember that it’s easier to help others when you, yourself, are already content. Draw back your circle of influence, focus on those who need you, and prioritize your own well-being.
5. Keep things in perspective.
You are the most important person in your life. You are the one providing care, love, and comfort to those around you—those are things they wouldn’t have without you. You need to put yourself first once in a while, because your own happiness is much more significant than you think it is. The people who love you want you to be just as happy as you want them to be. Don’t forget that the better you take care of yourself, the better you’re able to take care of others.