11 Ways To Be A Little Less Selfish Every Day

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Let's take a second and talk about selfishness. It can be a touchy subject, especially because no one likes to be associated with such a thing. And yet, we don't exactly spend our days looking for ways to be less selfish.

That's because selfishness is a tricky thing. We are taught from a young age to get what's ours, take no prisoners, and fight our way to the top. The whole "dog eat dog" mentality doesn't leave much room for selflessness or altruism. But who cares? Life is about winning, and trampling whoever gets in your way. Right?

Well, not so much. While you should always stand up for yourself and practice assertiveness, true selfishness can get in the way of your relationships at work, with friends, and in your private life. That's why it's best, more often than not, to put other people first. Or, at the very least, consider other's needs as equal to you own.

It may seem like the classic pushover thing to do. But, ironically, focusing on others can be a mutually beneficial thing. As Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D., noted on Psychology Today, "... the science behind good deeds suggests that altruism isn't entirely selfless. In fact, some research suggests that helpers may gain more from their altruistic acts than recipients."

So really, you aren't going to lose at life or miss out on opportunities simply because you're nice. In fact, it'll be quite the opposite. With that in mind, here are some simple ways to put others first, and be a little less selfish.

1. Be A Really Good Listener

Most of us assume we know where a convo is going, and thus stop listening to prepare for our turn to talk. It's not only rude, but also pretty selfish — and people can totally tell. So stop thinking ahead to what you’ll say next, suggested Marty Nemko, Ph.D., on Psychology Today. It's way better to stay in the moment and give the person your full attention. They will notice the difference, and it will be greatly appreciated.

2. Show A Bit Of Empathy

Just like it's easy to tune out people while they talk, it's also decidedly easy to spend your day oblivious to other people's wants and needs. But all it takes to prevent this is a little bit of empathy. According to Roman Krznaric in TIME, "Give them a chance to express those feelings and needs, and even reflect back what they’ve said so they recognize that you understand them." Ta da! Empathy achieved.

3. Donate Some Of Your Money

If you find yourself with some extra cash, consider passing it on to a charity. No matter what your interest or concern, I'm sure you'll be able to find a connected fundraiser, fund, or event. All it takes is a little research, and then you can get busy writing that check.

4. Donate Some Of Your Time

Fresh out of cash? Don't worry. You can still donate to charities, even sans money. Think about volunteering at a soup kitchen or crisis hotline, or going down to the local animal shelter to walk dogs. It won't cost you a dime, and it'll be a really helpful (and super unselfish) way to spend the weekend.

5. Give Your Parents A Call

If you have a good relationship with your parents, then by all means give them a call. They want to hear from you, and will be so happy when that phone ring. Plus, it's beneficial to all involved on a psychological level. As Jenny Kutner said on Mic.com, "... adult children on the receiving end of 'frequent parental involvement,' such as financial or emotional support, tend to fare better than those who do not." Who would have thought? Now go pick up that phone.

6. Give Rude People A Free Pass

Throughout the day, you're bound to run into cranky people who assume the world should be revolving around them. Think of that mean dude in line at Starbucks, or the lady going berserk behind you in traffic. Of course, it's not your fault that they aren't dealing, but you can help smooth things over by letting them ahead of you in line, or not getting caught up in road rage. The cool thing about such a generous move is they'll (hopefully) realize how rude they were being and calm down. If that happens, congrats — you just made the world a better place.

7. Be All About Little Surprises

Get in the habit of being a wonderful gift-giving, note-sending type of person. As Kevin Daum suggested on Inc., "Drop [a small gift] on a co-worker's desk when you see them having a hard day: a flower, an origami crane, a hand-drawn doodle, or a smiley face on a post-it. Any small gesture can make a big difference." It shows how aware you are of other's feelings, and nothing is nicer than that.

8. Be The Person Who Calls A Friend

Don't wait around for others to call you. Be the person who reaches out, makes plans, or calls to catch up. Someone's gotta do it, so it might as well be you. Plus, taking such initiative shows that you had someone on your mind, which is a surefire way to brighten their day.

9. Check In On Your Neighbors

When was the last time you said hi to your neighbors? Do you spend the day ducking behind curtains, and waiting for them to leave so you can go outside? If so, start being a bit more friendly, as it will benefit you both. According to the blog ActionForHappiness.org, "... research by the Young Foundation and others has found that that wellbeing is higher amongst people who have regular contact with their neighbors and that knowing people in our local area, even if it is just to say hello, can have a big impact how secure and happy we feel about where we live." So quit hiding, and go introduce yourself.

10. Let Others Decide What To Do

Ever play the "where should be go to eat" game? You know the one — where no one can decide on a place, or they claim they don't care, and then hours go by before you give up and order pizza. It's so annoying. But the opposite can also happen where you become the bossy friend who always decides how the night will go. If that sounds familiar, start letting others decide the evening's plans. Relinquish control and let them choose the movie, the restaurant, or the bar. It's the least you can do.

11. Figure Out Ways To Compromise

Selfishness can rear its ugly head in the form of not giving in no matter what. This is hardcore child-like behavior, and obviously totally selfish. If that sounds familiar, work on your ability to compromise. As Allison Renner noted on Lifehack.org, "Compromise is vital in any relationship, whether it’s with coworkers, friends, family members or your partner. It’s important to know when to stand your ground, but also to know which battles are worth fighting."

Start putting these tips into practice, and you'll start seeing all sorts of benefits — both for you, and for your friends and family. And what could be better than that?

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