Egoism, the gift that keeps on giving

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Photo by Jordan Randall

Christmas is upon us. The smell of sugar cookies and peppermint bark candles help remind me. The season of “giving,” as it’s called.

Growing up, children are taught to believe that giving is more important than receiving. Giving supposedly teaches youthful minds that it is more important to think about others first and yourself second.

But when we think about others first, don’t we also put ourselves in the forefront?

Why do we give? It is to make someone else feel variations of happiness. Once the gift has been exchanged, the giver can walk away knowing they have done a good deed and potentially changed the course of the receiver’s day entirely for the better.

Does giving only refer to exchanging physical things people can touch and feel? In my opinion, no.

When one individual gives a (physical) gift and another receives that (physical) gift, only one technically receives something they can touch, but both gain a gift from this interaction.

Suppose the reaction from the receiver in this exchange is extraordinary. The receiver spews tears of joy and embraces the giver with love and compassion. The giver becomes slowly filled with an emotion as well. Though only one half of the pair got a physical gift, the other half got an embodiment of that “oh wow, best gift ever? Shucks I’m blushing” feeling that givers crave.

Now, it is time to address the question I asked earlier. “But when we think about others first, don’t we also put ourselves in the forefront?”

When individuals give for the sake of “giving,” they are just as selfish as individuals who expect to only receive gifts.

People claim that they love giving because they get to see another soul’s eyes light up with excitement.  Seeing that excitement and that feeling they get, like they’re a “good person,” is like receiving a gift.

Individuals expect those positive reactions when they give a gift. It is sort of like a sixth sense. People are addicted to those positive reactions. They claim to love giving for the sake of giving, but they are selfish if they crave to be showered with praise and thanks.

For example, let us imagine a boss. This boss is distant from his/her employees yet wants to be viewed as a “personable father/mother figure” to his workforce. So around Christmas time he/she gives the employees minute bonuses. A simple “aw, thanks boss man/woman” won’t cut it. Hell no. This person wants to praised like a demigod. Basically, get down on your knees and kiss their feet.

With egoism comes altruism. I do not think true altruism exists. I like to think of myself as a fairly selfless person. But when I give gifts, I fall into the ever growing category of egotistical humans.

I love giving. I always had. I love giving grand, spectacular gifts for your home. This christmas I bought my girlfriend a necklace from Tiffany’s (don’t worry, she already knows and is currently wearing it!). Why did I, a (horribly) broke college student splurge on a several hundred dollar necklace? I did so to make her face light up with excitement. You know, why all “givers” love giving.

I didn’t expect her to praise me like a king afterwards. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that I included myself in the decision process of buying the gift. With that gift, I anticipated a reaction that would in return make my face brighten up with an equal amount of excitement.

Being a little selfish is in my blood. I am human. It is impossible to not include myself in every thought and action I do. The amount of selfishness depends on the individual, some choose to be more selfish than others.

There are many different types of selfishness, though. And even though there are many negative connotations associated with that word, giving with the altruistic thoughts in mind should not be one.

Time to wrap this up. (Get it? Wrap it up? Like a present? Haha puns.) With Christmas just around the corner, let us all be as selfless as we can. If all of us are selfish just in the sense that we give to brighten up other’s days and make ourselves feel more lifted, then shoot, that’s all right.

Happy holidays!

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