Self-interest

It always seemed strange to me that the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second.

Many Americans draw the boundaries of their self-interest very narrowly. Our culture's emphasis on individualism and competition reinforces an attitude of isolation and impotence toward global problems.

American environmental ills at home (smog, deforestation, the loss of wetlands), as well as the degradation of vast areas of the developing world remind us that protecting the environment is the ultimate enlightened self-interest.

A significant life - one that is more than just happy or meaningful - requires dedication to ends that we choose because they exceed the goal of personal well-being. We attain and feel our significance in the world when we create, and act for, ideals that may originate in self-interest, but ultimately benefit others.

Man - every man - is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others. He must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing other to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life.

All men are idolaters, some of fame, others of self-interest, most of pleasure.

The worst poison of an honest heart, self-interest.

The name of virtue serves self-interest just as usefully as vices... Self-interest, though made responsible for all our crimes, often deserves the credit of our good actions.

Though indolence and timidity keep us to the path of duty, virtue often gets all the credit... Virtues lose themselves in self-interest, as rivers lose themselves in the sea.

An enlightened self-interest, which, when well understood, they tell us will identify with an interest more enlarged and public.

Human service is the highest form of self-interest for the person who serves.

We probably have a greater love for those we support than those who support us. Our vanity carries more weight than our self-interest... There is sublime thieving in all giving. Someone gives us all he has and we are his.

The working of great institutions is mainly the result of... routine, petty malice, self-interest, carelessness, and sheer mistakes. Only a small fraction is thought.

Our convictions on important matters are not the result of knowledge or critical thought, nor, it may be added, are they often dictated by supposed self-interest. Most of them are pure prejudices in the proper sense of that word. We do not form them ourselves. They are the whisperings of “the voice of the herd.”

The willingness to harm or hurt comes ultimately out of fear. Non-harming requires that you see your own fears and that you understand them and own them. Owning them means taking responsibility for them. Taking responsibility means not letting fear completely dictate your vision or your view. Only mindfulness completely dictate your vision or your view. Only mindfulness of our own clinging and rejecting, and a willingness to grapple with these mind states, however painful the encounter, can free us from this circle of suffering. Without a daily embodiment in practice, lofty ideals tend to succumb to self-interest.

The greatest event in natural history was the birth of conscience in the human mind. That was the moment when man put aside his strongest natural instinct, which was self-interest.

Truth has many shells. Each is the truth, but each represents a different aspect, depending on the bias, self-interest, or other psychological coloration which remains on the surface. As one after another shell is removed, the picture of truth changes. Only if one can reach the core, hidden beneath the protective covering, does one feel he knows the bare truth.

The real test of our ethics is whether we are willing to do the right thing even when it is not in our self-interest.

If your imagination leads you to understand how quickly people grant your requests when those requests appeal to their self-interest, you can have practically anything you go after.