Most people only like to do something if it has some benefit to them, it is only natural. I am sure that if you think about it, most of the things you do benefit yourself in some way. You go to class to get an education to, hopefully, get a good job. You go to work to get money for things you enjoy, and bills. You go to the gym to get/stay healthy or look good. These are all pretty obvious but everything we do gives us some sort of benefit or else we would not do it.
Let’s take one of the most selfless things I can think of: volunteering. People volunteer for many reasons; they like to help others, they feel it is their duty as a good (insert religion here), or usually it is required by some program such as school. No matter what the reason there is always a benefit to the volunteer. This benefit can come in the form of meeting a requirement or maybe it just makes the person feel good because they enjoy it (yes, a lot of people actually enjoy volunteering). The point is that even with one of the most selfless things, we feed our self-interest.
So how can we put our self-interest aside? The answer is we cannot. We are all human and therefore are worry about our self-interest whether we know it or not. However, what we can do is recognize this and try to put interest of others first. I am not saying to always put others first because the truth is we need to worry about ourselves or we can end up being miserable people who cannot help anyone. However, we should always know how our actions will affect others and realize when we are doing something just for ourselves. A good example of this is something that I always do and really need to work on. A lot of times I will text someone who I am not really close with (you know that person we only talk to when we need something) and ask for a favor. I often only say a few things before I ask for the favor because I am only worried about my self-interest. I want this to stop and I do not want to know anyone that I can refer to as someone I only go to when I need something.
We should all think a little bit more about others before ourselves. We do not need to be Mother Teresa to do this, we just need to change the way we interact with people. Next time you go into an office to ask a question, why not ask the person at the desk how their day is going. It only takes a little extra time and it could really make their day. They might even give you a little extra help because you put their interests before your own (see always going back to our self-interest it is inevitable), but that should not be the motivation for doing it. Thinking about others a bit more with little things like this can have a major impact on your life and happiness but more importantly the happiness of those around you.
I am going to start to make little changes like asking people how their day is going, what kind of changes will you make?