Is Extraordinary Living Selfish?

Since my initial concept of this blog began to form, there is one major challenge I have wrestled with constantly.  Am I putting myself first too much in my attempt to live a Rare Existence?  The fact that you are currently reading this blog means that I have decided the answer is no. But still, it is a question that requires some thought, so I’m putting my musings out there.

There are 3 main reasons I do not believe extraordinary living is selfish.

1. Your role in the world matters.

Yes, I do believe that loving the world around you and giving of yourself to humanity as a whole are key elements to a well lived life.
I do not see living an extraordinary life as being in opposition to that life model, in fact I think they go hand in hand quite well. I believe that people’s talents, experiences, weaknesses, strengths, genetic predispositions, etc. all make up one whole unique person.  And it is my belief that each one whole unique person exists to fill certain holes in the world in a way that only that specific person with that specific makeup can fill. That said, I believe that if you are doing something that you are not fit to do or living as if every person were meant to do the same things, then you are going to be unsatisfied and potentially inhibit the world around you from living up to it’s full potential.
The main reason I think everyone should be living the destiny they are made for, is because I believe it is the main thing that will make their life beneficial to those around them.  I definitely agree that living your life for the good of others is the number one priority…  I just happen to think that living the life you are meant to live is one of the best ways to do that.

 2. Sacrificial love isn’t always what it seems.

Yes, life and love require sacrifices. It’s not all sunshine and roses and it’s not all about pursuing things that make you happy.  Sometimes you do things you don’t like for the sake of others.
The problem arises when people define themselves by these sacrifices.
It is so much easier to play the victim.  So much simpler to not push yourself in life because you simply assume your position holds you stationary.  No, life doesn’t always go as planned, no life is not all about our happiness, and yes sometimes love does require more sacrifice than we want to make.  But within all that we still have choices, and no one choice has to define us for the rest of our life because we still have choices after that.  Many people let the sacrifice phase run their entire life so that it no longer can be called a phase, but rather…well, it’s just called their life at that point. Spending your entire life sacrificing what you are meant to be doing with your life for the sake of others has consequences to not only you but to those you believe you are sacrificing for.
The good intentions behind our sacrifices can quickly turn into excuses to avoid our fears.
When this happens, we begin basing our life decisions on fear disguised as love and this is of benefit to no one, no matter how much we want to believe it is.  We are telling ourselves that we are living the way we are for the sake of another person, when really that person/situation can go on just fine without us.  But we are incapable of acknowledging that because that is going to require more self-examination and change than we are ready for.  When we get to this point, we are in the danger zone because there is a good chance that we are doing more harm than good by what we are still calling a “loving sacrifice.”  It’s important to constantly ask yourself “are my past sacrifices still necessary or am I just stuck in a bad routine that I have been afraid of questioning?”  Knowing when to make sacrifices for others is just as important as knowing when to move forward with your life within that sacrifice, or when to let go of the sacrifice entirely.
 I fully believe that you can commit to truly loving others in life and still pursue an extraordinary life.
Sacrificing for others doesn’t have to mean giving up your dreams and loving people doesn’t have to mean you don’t get to be happy yourself.  In fact, for many people, living an extraordinary life is all about giving up their comforts to enable them to love others better (as in the story of Kelli that I featured awhile back).  I also believe that love, happiness, filling the role you are destined for, and selflessness all fit together very well and often create a circle where each aspect feeds and strengthens the others.

3. Your loved ones will thank you.

Anyone who is drained of passion, hope, and joy is not going to be of much use to people around them.
If you are a mom who has become a complete martyr for your children and do not have a single ounce of self-esteem or personal identity left in you… what are teaching your kids about life?  If you are a husband who uses every ounce of energy you have to just survive every single workday long enough to be able to make it home and zone out in front of the TV… what kind of love are you able to give to your wife and what kind of example are you being to your kids about how to love people?
Sick people can’t make others healthy because disease spreads.  Push aside your fears and be willing to constantly ask yourself what needs to be done for the greater good of others… you might be surprised that it requires that you be healthy and happy so you can love others well.  Make the choice to be a healthy person who can lead others to health by example.

The bottom line is that though extraordinary living is focusing on yourself and your own life while pursuing changes that might result in your own personal happiness, that doesn’t make it selfish; because it is those very changes that will most likely result in positive changes in the lives of those around you. If doing what you are meant to be doing with your life makes you happier (and it’s likely that it will) that does not automatically make you selfish. Happiness does not have to equal selfishness. If you are pursuing your own happiness IN SPITE of what’s best for those around you, well then that’s another story. But extraordinary living is not about finding what you WANT to do with your life but what you are MEANT to do with your life and I don’t believe what you are truly meant to do with your life is something that will be detrimental to your loved ones, but in fact beneficial to them… as well as to yourself. As long as your happiness comes from things that are good and true then it is a gift from God and can be one of the greatest sources of the love that you extend to others.

One thought on “Is Extraordinary Living Selfish?”

  1. You are a very wise young woman! As I was reading # 1 above, I kept thinking about the phrase, “For such a time as this…” I firmly believe that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives, if we will hold still and listen long enough to really focus and hear Him, He will make it clear to us. I do not think that this means you have no choices, no alternatives — He gave us free will for a reason. And I do believe that He steers us, guides us, and divinely places people in our paths to help us along the way.
    I also have found (recently) that living an extraordinary life can mean scaling down…my mantra has become “SIMPLIFY.” Rudyard Kipling once said, “Teach us to delight in the simple things.” My life is much more extraordinary when I am not owned and managed by my STUFF! What THINGS do I need to have in order to feel content and like I have my needs met? Where is the line between that and overkill? I have learned that having too much stuff, having too many things, paying for them, storing them, managing them, cleaning them, maintaining them, etc. etc. ad nauseum, is a SERIOUS detractor from my life. Because of the STUFF, I did not fully appreciate the beauty around me, nor fully delight in the people around me. It was like a huge grizzly bear sitting on top of my shoulders. Even though I LOVED having a big house, a pool, nice stores close by, etc. etc., I did not see how they were closing in around me and causing me pain. Now I am free! I owe no one, my little house is much easier to clean, less stuff means less to care for and maintain. The fresh pine air, the clucking of my chickens, the purring of my cats, the roosters crowing in the neighborhood, dirt roads, horses whinnying, and neighbors calling out “good morning!” are feeding my soul. Simplifying my life means better focus, clearer vision of my goals and purpose, greater ability to reflect and listen, and more time to spend with the Lord. I spend each day with my husband, and thoroughly enjoy my surroundings. I have had more than my fair share (a little bias there) of trials and suffering during my life. (See Point #2 above) But that does not at all mean that it has not been extraordinary. Granted, I probably have 30 more years ahead of me, but I intend for them to be even more extraordinary than those so far in my life. I have done many things, gone many places, met many people, taught more than 2500 students so far. My sphere of influence is astounding and humbling and scary to me. Why me, Lord? What is it you have equipped me to share with those in that sphere? It is the daily question, and He is so faithful to answer. Point #3 above is absolutely true.
    It is humbling to consider myself to be living an extraordinary life. I have chicken poop on my shoes and weeds in my garden that are 2 feet tall. But, every single day, God teaches me lessons in the garden, lessons in the coop, lessons in the kitchen, on the porch, and through my friends and family. He is the Extraordinary One, and because of Him, I get to participate in and experience really extraordinary things. Wow. That is — well, that is EXTRAORDINARY! 😀

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