Selfishness: Is It Ever Okay? Yes!


In general, selfishness is not seen as a desirable quality, as it can often lead to harm to others. However, itis not a bad thing. There are good, neutral, and bad selfishness. Knowing the difference between the three can help you decide when it’s okay to be selfish.

What Is Selfishness?

Understandably, most people don’t consider selfishness to be a desired trait. It is when you work in your best interest without regard to or at the expense of others.

Good Selfishness

Good selfishness is considering your well-being and happiness as a top priority. It is taking care of yourself first and foremost, physically and emotionally.

It is saying no to others to preserve your own time and resources. It is knowing your limits and not pushing yourself too hard. It is honest with yourself about what you want and need and not compromise those desires. Here are some examples:

  • Self-care
  • Not taking on another project because you are at capacity
  • Saying no to working extra because you’re exhausted

Neutral Selfishness

Neutral selfishness also involves taking care of your best interest; however, it is usually not at the expense of other people. Some examples  include:

  • Taking a day off
  • Reading a book
  • Taking a class
  • Brushing your teeth

Bad Selfishness

Bad selfishness is the self-serving behavior most people think about when they hear the word “selfish.” For some, it may represent a lack of concern or consideration for others. Others may see it as a simple focus on one’s own needs or desires to exclude others. Either interpretation can be seen as bad, as it can lead to negative consequences for you, others, or both.

  • Leaving work early, forcing your co-worker to work overtime when they already had plans
  • Planning weekend meetings without regard to your team
  • Taking the “good stuff” out of a box of donations meant for the underprivilege
  • Making a mess, leaving it for others to clean


As you can see, thinking of yourself first can be a good thing. In essence, acting in your best interest in consideration of others is acceptable. A good rule of thumb is to consider others affected by your self-motivated actions. And remember, just because you feel bad does not mean you’ve done something terrible.