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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I


May 13th, 2018

When aboard an airplane, we are told: place the mask on yourself before you turn to aid others. 

This even extends to your own children!

And yet how many use the reason of others, of children, spouses, friends, needy strangers, coworkers and the demands of a boss to ignore what we need first, foremost and before spreading whatever generosity we can?

It is difficult, emotionally, and even counter-intuitive, to sacrifice the loud obvious need of someone else in order to tend to the needs of one’s own.


But a well rested mind. Good nutrition and exercise. All of these things that may feel selfish in the short term are long term benefits in our quest to be of good use to others. 



Helping someone else at the detriment of one’s self is a zero-sum game.

We want a non-zero sum game. Meaning that both benefit when all is said and done. We want both ourselves and others to be in a better position after all is said and done.

The issue is often a problem of order. ‘Placing others before one’s self’ is often taken too literally, with nothing left over for one’s self.

Putting our most important needs first is not selfish.

It generates a greater ability to aid those around us. 

By serving ourselves first, we can be of greater benefit to those we love and care for.


Notice the precarious balance here. So easy is it that this might slip into down right selfishness. The bad kind.

Best to err on the side of caution? Just throw our needs out the window in favor of tending to those of others, so that when all is said and done, we might play the martyr card. This outcome might broadcast as a noble one, but it’s still not the outcome we genuinely wish for.

Best to walk the harder path, that tightrope: with abject selfishness on one side and abject selflessness on the other.



We must take a bite of the bread first, so we might walk the extra mile down the line, where even more hungry people wait.

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 28: The Selfish Paradox

Tinkered Thinking

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