Is embracing selfishness actually a path to happiness?

Is embracing selfishness actually a path to happiness?

I was brought up to be of a mentality that it is your role in life to make sure those around you are happy and looked after, before you are.  And on top of that, I think that as women we tend to automatically put others first.  I don’t know how many times I remember Mum only getting one chop (if she was lucky) so we could have extra.  Now if the hoards are hungry, I do the same. 

To be seen as putting your own needs ahead of those around you was bordering on a cardinal sin. Now to put this into perspective, this was in the (late) 70’s and 80’s, and I was brought up by a GP, who was always there for his patients, and a mother spreading herself across nine children. It was something that they both instilled in me for as long as I can remember.

Then enter the work and family of my own years.  A time where it seems like everyone around us is asking for something.  It can be an exhausting time of giving, giving and more giving until we feel like we have nothing left.

Have you found that as you hit your forties you’re being pulled in every direction possible? You can’t satisfy everyone, particularly yourself?  But is there a balance to be found in there somewhere? 

Here are some steps I took to be happier.


Self-Care is not Selfish

Selfishness, when framed as self-care, becomes a powerful weapon that allows you to give yourself permission to work on your overall wellbeing. Taking time for yourself is not a luxury, it's a necessity.

In a world that constantly demands our attention and energy, carving out moments to recharge is essential for maintaining physical and mental health. What does this mean to you?

Set aside a dedicated time each day for activities that bring you joy and relaxation:

  • Reading a book
  • Getting out and stopping and literally smell the roses
  • Enjoying a bath.

For me, I enjoy getting to the gym. I need to escape my surroundings. That one hour of hard work and sweating gets the endorphins pumping and I’m ready to take on the world. It may not always be relaxing, but it is my time, simply for me.  

I also have a confession to make.  I never told my children how good the tails on chops are.  I used to give them the chops and then I eat all the tails.  My 16-year-old daughter only discovered my dirty secret a couple of years ago.  Neither of us have told my 13-year-old about them.  Selfish?  No.  Joyful? Yes.

Set some boundaries.

Sometimes it feels like you need to have three, slightly more energetic and mentally alert clones of yourself to keep up with your various roles and responsibilities. Setting clear boundaries is important in maintaining a healthy ‘life-life’ balance and preventing burnout.

We’re so connected now devices of some description at our fingertips whispering at us to ‘just check one email’ can easily take your focus from what is more important to you. And big tip, contrary to that other little voice, it’s not reels or Candy Crush.

Say no when necessary, and don't be afraid to communicate your limits to others. Whether it’s being clear on when you’re available to colleagues, or setting a clock with a timer that your family needs to give you peace and quiet… find a way to set some boundaries.

By establishing boundaries, you create space for yourself, reducing stress and building a more balanced life.  Those positive relationships around us will actually be happy that you are happier.

What do I do?

  • Walk in the door from work and no matter what bedlam is going on I take the dog out
  • I’m planning on taking my brothers advice and removing my mobile from my bedside table, replacing it with an alarm clock. I just haven’t quite found the right one yet…

These snippets of time just for you and boundaries help you to reduce stress and give you the energy to deal with life’s relentless adrenal fatigue a little better. 

You can have the energy and enough sleep to be in the right headspace to be able to take time out for yourself; go and enjoy it. 

Love Kate