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Three Things That Sound Bad But Can Actually Be Good For You



Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/ / CC BY-ND 2.0

“It is neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.”
William Shakespeare

Some things are often deemed to be bad. Some things are often deemed to be good.

Here are three things that may sound bad but can actually be good for you. Three things that I have learned to make better use of or strengthen a bit since that would help me out. Think about them. Then add and subtract as you see useful for your life and situation right now while using your own common sense.

1. Selfishness.

Selfishness is rarely seen as something positive. The word may fill your head with images of greedy and soulless Montgomery Burns-like people.
However, personal development is in a way pretty selfish. You are trying to make yourself and your life better. But the thing is that by focusing on helping yourself first you can become stronger and help others in a better way too.

If you just focus on other people and not on yourself then you risk burning out. Or people may take advantage of you as you set no limits or boundaries. You become the “nice guy/girl” who is always out there to help people but think little about yourself which in the long run can become pretty unhealthy.

And selfishness and helping others often go hand in hand anyway. I did for example improve my health and increased my energy levels last year. This also gave me the extra energy to work on an free ebook – that will, if everything goes as planned, be up on the blog very soon – besides writing the usual articles. So that is a win-win.

2. Lazyness.

Being lazy isn’t all that bad. Being lazy about stuff that is irrelevant or not that important will help you quite a bit to free up time and minimize unnecessary stress. Getting the most stuff done isn’t the best option. Getting the most important things done will improve your life and world the most.

So, as I wrote a few weeks ago, set limits for checking inboxes, Twitter etc. Use your laziness and come up with ideas on how to make things as simple as you can in your daily life. Find the smartest path instead of thinking there is some reward for doing things in the most roundabout and complicated way.

This also makes it easier to really relax when you relax and work in focused way when you are working. Be smart and balance life and take advantage of laziness instead of making things into an unnecessarily big struggle.

3. Ruthlessness.

Adding a bit of ruthlessness has, in just the right amount, been very helpful for me. It allows me to cut out the unnecessary instead of wimping around and trying to everything to fit in somehow. If you have problems with putting a stop to something or making decisions then a little bit more ruthlessness may be what you need.

Because at some point you have to make harder decisions and cut out stuff you may not want to. Otherwise you won’t be able to find the time and energy you need. This may mean to skip some social engagements or cutting down on the TV-shows you follow from 10 hours a week to 2 hours a week. Not always fun, but you have to be the boss of your life. You have to make the decisions and say no both to yourself and to others if necessary.

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  • thomas January 26, 2010, 4:10 pm

    Cool! I think also eckard tolle wrote something like: if we see the good in good, and the good in bad things, we see a good that has no opposite. Btw i really like your blogs! :)

  • Zen Choices January 26, 2010, 4:48 pm

    I like your idea about using laziness to become more efficient. I’ve read some interesting posts about accepting some procrastination and laziness in your life, or at least using it to your advantage. I think some of the reason for this phenomenon is because of the hardcore drive there is to achieve goals. Many productivity posts give you the feeling that every second should be spent being productive. I’ve found it helpful to plan for idleness or just plain relaxing. I think we basically are thinking along the same lines, but for me, laziness and procrastination can also mean not taking action when I should. I like your counterintuitive thinking!

  • Srinivas Rao January 26, 2010, 5:39 pm

    Great ideas Heinrik. It’s funny because selfishness gets a bad rap, but sometimes it’s the right thing depending on the circumstances. For example if you are in a relationship but you have many things you need to get sorted out (i.e. explore the world, etc), then it might be selfish. But you are doing the other person a favor in the long run.

    I like how you’ve turned laziness into a way to get efficient. I guess I never thought Laziness could fuel innovation :)

  • LTI January 26, 2010, 5:52 pm

    Good article! I especially agree that being selfish sometimes is necessary to develop our own knowledge and awareness of the world around us and gives us time to reflect on how to be a better person. I am really looking forward to seeing your eBook. Keep up the great work!

  • Clinton Skakun January 26, 2010, 6:11 pm

    Selfishness. – Everything we do is selfish. If we want someone else to feel good, we’re acting selfish because it’s something we want.

    Lazyness. – Maybe it’s not the best word for it I dunno…people like to use the phrase, “I work smart like this because I’m lazy” not sure if that’s just good sense.

    Ruthlessness. – This has helped me a lot. I’m the type of person who wants to do it all, right now. Doesn’t work that way though. Simplicity always puts a person in control of his own focus.

    Great Post:)

  • Hilary January 26, 2010, 10:18 pm

    Hi Hendrik .. good points .. often people don’t know they’re selfish, or don’t find out later in life; lazyness – some people just can’t be bothered .. terrible!; ruthlessness – just get on with it.

    So your three points and how to deal with them are really well set out and good reminder to us all

    Thank you – Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

  • Avish Parashar - Motivational Smart Ass January 27, 2010, 2:36 am

    Excellent post! I have been thinking a lot (and am thinking on writing about) the idea that we need to be wary of advice that comes in absolutes. Too many times we are told to “do this” and “don’t do that,” when in fact it’s much more about finding the right balance. I think you are spot on with that here. Balancing selfish and unselfish, laziness with productivity, ruthlessness with kindness, etc. It’s all about the yin and yang!

  • Meg at Demanding Joy January 27, 2010, 4:16 am

    Thanks so much for a great post. My mother, a self-proclaimed feminist, always insisted that my ambition was a very unattractive quality. She was uncomfortable when I finished my MBA and earned a vice presidency at my company – a message I will never, ever send to my daughter.

  • amanda@choosing-life-my-way.com January 27, 2010, 5:01 am

    I especially agree that it is good and necessary to be ‘selfish.’ People-pleasing is a deadly trap, and doesn’t make anyone happy.

  • Richard Shelmerdine January 27, 2010, 11:37 am

    Selective laziness is an excellent thing. It means that you can concentrate on the positive. Great post.

  • Nacho Jordi January 27, 2010, 12:59 pm

    I absolutely agree. Particularly on the issue of “selfishness” (such a shame that the term has acquired so many negative connotations). Oneself is always the place to start, there is nothing more horrible than that people who try to fix other people’s lives in order not to see their own is in ruins. You have to fix your own car before you drive anywhere. For what it’s worth, I have a post on the issue here: http://www.zerebria.com/2009/12/15/care-oneself/

  • Susan Liddy January 27, 2010, 11:05 pm

    When I think of personal growth I don’t think of it as being selfish or self centered. Instead its more of a centering of yourself. That actually turns out to be quite a gift to the people in our lives because when we are truly centered within ourselves we can love more, give more and be more than we ever thought possible.

    :)

  • Julia Lindsey January 28, 2010, 2:54 am

    I never thought about ruthless being a good word to describe someone. But in this context it is so true. You must decide to not hang out with people that are negative, spend less time watching tv and more time finding things you love. I reevaluate my life frequently and I have even ended business relationships that caused me stress.

  • Michelle @ Following Your Joy January 28, 2010, 3:59 am

    Henrik,

    Love this! You are right–those three things are deemed “bad” in our society. And I see the first two coming up all the time in my coaching work with clients.

    Huge personal growth emerges when people realize the importance of ‘constructive selfishness’…which can include being lazy! We must take care of ourselves and fill our own cup before we can be of service to others (reminds me of the flight attendant’s plea before take-off to “put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others” in the event of cabin pressure loss). In addition to taking care of ourselves, it’s essential to relax and allow for down-time. In fact, my latest blog post is titled “Relaxing Into Being”…reminding us of the idea that we are human ‘beings’ and not human ‘doings.’

    The three things you listed above are truly all about how we choose to look at them. Thank you for reminding us that they can be GOOD!

    Warmly,
    Michelle

  • Nancy January 28, 2010, 7:48 pm

    Hi Henrik,

    Fine thinking! I appreciate your ability to show things in a new light.

    One of your readers mentioned Eckhart Tolle and I agree. Eckhart doesn’t make judgments either. I did think that since Eckhart and Byron Katie are cohorts, you might be interested in this article, http://www.mindbridge-loa.com/techniques-for-positive-thinking.html

    or this one http://www.mindbridge-loa.com/Eckhart-Tolle.html

    Thanks,
    Nancy

  • Surge January 28, 2010, 9:51 pm

    Or another way to put this post – “every good thing, in moderation.”

  • aDeeb January 29, 2010, 9:37 am

    For years I have argued that being lazy is a right.
    Finally someone sees that light!

  • Paul January 29, 2010, 10:03 am

    Successful people seem to be selfish, rough and ruthless. But mostly they’re not. The reason is that they have to protect their achievements, money and maybe to most valuable TIME. If they would be mild they would never be successful, distracted by hundreds of people and thousands of things.

  • Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D. January 31, 2010, 5:54 pm

    Thanks for emphasizing the importance of taking care of yourself. That’s what this blog says to me. Looking out for ourselves, prioritizing and sticking to a goal are essential to success. I especially loved your last point about saying “no” to yourself and others. The way I look at it, however, is that when you say “no” to things that interfere with your plans or people who seek to rob you of energy, you are saying “yes” to yourself.

  • Michelle I Taming Time Management February 4, 2010, 1:17 am

    Great article.

    Women especially struggle with being too selfless. By insisting on being selfless many women end up burnt out, fatigued and wondering why there life is so hard. (Not saying some men aren’t selfless, but it is more common in women). By taking a dash of selfishness, along with a spoonful of ruthlessness selfless people would get the time out they are desperately in need of.

    Case in point:
    And selfishness and helping others often go hand in hand anyway. I did for example improve my health and increased my energy levels last year.

    When teaching people how to manage there time better – I always strive to emphasize that “Personal Down Time” is a very important part of a happy, healthy persons schedule.