Psychological Self-Help

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10. My goal in life is to be happy, to have a good time. I care about
others, yet I also have a right to whatever I can earn or
achieve through my own honest efforts. I want to enjoy life. My
first obligation is to see that my family and I have everything
we want. I can't help others unless I am happy, so that comes
Agree         Disagree
1   2   3   4   5 
If you answered the basic question "no," you would be more likely
to agree with the first 3 or 4 statements which support the Golden
Rule. If you feel positive towards the basic question, you will agree
more with self-centered statements like 5 to 10. These latter
statements are the common rationalizations in our culture for not
helping others in need; check to see if your answers reveal some of
your self-excuses or escape mechanisms (as discussed by Bandura
Obviously one could pursue both happiness (choices 7, 8, & 9
above) and the Golden Rule (choices 1, 2, & 3) on a part-time basis
(and most of us do), or, if one were very fortunate, one might
experience great happiness in life while helping others. The reverse is
very unlikely, i.e. doing great good while primarily seeking personal
What is wrong with putting your happiness and financial
success first? (i.e. get yours first, like trickle down economics.)
You often hear comments like, "you have to look out for yourself"
or "those people really know how to to party" or "you have
to be happy yourself before you can help others be happy." All are
very common justifications for happiness. But, who is happiest, the
person devoted to having fun or the person devoted to helping others?
Rimland (1982) did a very simple experiment. Why don't you try it
right now. List the 10 people you know best. Rate each one as either
happy or unhappy. Then, rate each one as self-centered or others-
centered. Rimland found that happy people were ten times more likely
to be unselfish than selfish. I rest my case. It is strange that happiness
comes to people who have decided not to seek it as their main
purpose in life. It comes as a fringe benefit to helpers. 
There is accumulating evidence that striving for power, fame,
wealth, and material goods--big parts of the "American Dream"--more
than for good relationships, personal growth, and altruism is
associated with more anxiety, more depression, and poorer general
functioning (Kasser & Ryan, 1993). In short, materialism may be bad
for your mental (and spiritual?) health. As Fromm (1976) observed, a
focus on "having" distracts us from "being" our best person.
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