Recently I was asked AGAIN why I write. The question has come up a number of times. I wonder if a micro tattoo exists that would answer the question in a single word. Maybe I can have it tattooed on my forehead and save us all a little time that could be spent on taking a deep breath, exhaling and knowing we are alive!
I answered the writing question, this way, “it makes me happy.” Did it work? Nope. It led to more questions. The person who asked the question is a friend and has a genuine interest in people, as do I.
But regardless of my intimate relationship with and knowledge of their caring side, my thoughts led me straight down the path of feeling selfish for doing what I love to do, and the defenses went up.
Whoa I thought, what’s with all the resistance here, check it!
“Selfishness” is a negatively loaded, tricky word. The first thing I did was choose an alternative, “self interest.”
The differences in the two words are miles apart. Selfish (as commonly understood) is the narcissistic idea that me and only me matters. Self interest is the exploration of one’s life, desires and identity.
The question of why I write when framed with selfishness sounded like an accusation. It brought up negative ideas in my thinking. I must be a bad wife, mother, daughter, friend etc to waste precious time on such frivolous things as story writing.
In removing the why and selfishness from the process and inserting desire and self interest in their place, it set up entirely different thoughts and feelings.
Desire framed as selfishness uploads tons of self judgement to the brain and is unhealthy. It leads to a lack of appreciation for life. There is no way to make yourself, or anyone else happy with that attitude.
Desire framed as self interest, uploads a freedom to explore you to the brain and is healthy. This is self empowerment and leads to an interesting life filled with appreciation. Thinking with empowered thoughts moves us toward self approval and acceptance of others.
When you follow a desire that makes you happy such as writing, you explore a part of the life you came here to live. Each piece we put in place that fits brings more happiness, peace and well being.
The simple, if not so simple answer is, if writing makes you happy then in self interest do it! Do it with the same degree of enthusiasm you give to your loved ones, friends and strangers when supporting and interacting with them.
If you want to escape selfishness, don’t participate in it! Instead pursue self interest. I think you will be quite pleased to learn, part of real self interest is in the caring about others, and this is what the philosophers mean when they talk about humans being social creatures that are compassionate and enjoy helping others.
The next time you are asked why you write, try this. I love to feel good, smile, and interact with/support EVERYONE.