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Selfish Moments, Responsibility to Yourself, and Fair-Exchange

Written by Joseph Carrabis

Everything we do is based on often hidden decisions, what economists call an opportunity costs, because if we do “this” then we can’t do “that”. Sometimes doing “this” for ourselves means we can’t do “that” for someone else and the economist’s opportunity cost becomes the neuroeconomist’s fair-exchange, a kind of “will my reward be worth my effort?” meets “will they think it’s good enough for what they promised me?”.

Opportunity costs are good gauges when it’s this or that style decisions and Fair-Exchange rules when it’s “how will this affect me and them?” versus “how will that affect me and them?” decisions.

Small decisions are usually made non-consciously and on an immediate reward basis. Larger decisions often rise to conscious awareness because they move from opportunity cost to fair-exchange. The larger the decision, the more likely our decision involves or affects others and personal and social responsibilities kick in.

Selfish moments – a perfectly normal, healthy thing – occur when we indulge ourselves in small rewards such as a bit of ice cream or a flower in our lapel and are usually based on small decisions.

But sometimes selfish moments affect personal, family and work relationships. The person is caught in a dilemma; do they give themself a little me time or do they deny themself for someone else’s sake? Seeing to their own needs seems selfish, seeing to other’s needs promotes a victim mentality.

Scheduling Me Time
Everybody on the planet, and often from childhood on, has responsibilities. First to themselves, then to others. The growing child’s chores teach responsibility to the family and promote a sense of worth in the child for a job well done, something that benefits both the individual and society as the child matures.

Sometimes our responsibilities to others overshadow our responsibilities to ourselves, specifically our responsibility to see to our own wants and needs. Not taking care of ourselves is setting ourselves up for failure, unhealthy stress and can lead to damaging relationships.

The worst part of not seeing to our own wants and needs is that eventually our core and personality rebel. They demand that our own needs be met. This is most often demonstrated by radical behavioral changes, alienating friends and workers, unhealthy life decisions and what psychologists call “acting out”.

What’s interesting about seeing to our own wants and needs is that usually our selfish moments are really simple to meet, like the taste of ice cream or flower in the lapel. What escalates these simple selfish moments from opportunity cost to fair-exchange decisions is that they are ongoing, something that must be done on a daily basis, like going to the gym, practicing a musical instrument, going for a walk or reading a book.

We deny ourselves today because we don’t know what the opportunity cost or fair-exchange will be tomorrow.

A Simple Trick
Whatever your small selfish moment is, tell yourself you’re just going to do it today. You may or may not do it tomorrow, you don’t really know, all you do know is that you can do it right now, today.

The trick is to have that selfish moment right now, in the moment as it were. Don’t worry about scheduling it today for every day to come, just do it right now, once, today, and let tomorrow’s schedule can take care of itself.

Remember, Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles….it takes away today’s peace. Give yourself some peace today and have a selfish moment. You’ve earned it.

That’s all for now. Stay warm and well.

About the author

Joseph Carrabis

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