One of the first reactions to the concepts of applied cognitive psychology typically will be, “It’s starting to sound a little selfish.” This is true, to a point. Read below for a comment from the wider, global field:
“The example that you gave seems to indicate that life is more worth living if you first change your attitude to a positive instead of hanging on to a negative, rebellious or resistive attitude. No worries; I got that one. But, in the beginning you stated that what makes life worth living can be summed up in a single word, ‘you’ Now, you’ve lost me.
“In my line of work, I see the degradation of a ‘me first’ attitude. I agree that the only person you can change is ‘you.’ But, if one gets stuck in the ‘you’ or fixates with ‘you’ that would lead to self-centeredness, arrogance, elitism would it not? I see this all the time. Selfishness seems to be the start of greater, more serious social/societal issues. I would think that life is much more worth living, as you have indicated, if you could start by changing yourself to think more positively, to become a better person, in order to be of service to others. Am I missing something here?”
The earlier message may not have gone that one step further by way of explanation. It is what “you” or “me” brings to living, for ourselves and those around us, that is important. It’s the “why” we do things. Each of us has special talents and skills, which when brought to bear on challenges faced by society in general, or a specific situation, makes life worth living. It is in service to others that we truly express our worth. Purpose, or meaning, are vital to our overall sense of well-being.
However, a sturdy sense of self-worth must come first, before we can be effective to the world around us. You see, if we do not feel worthy, we won’t put ourselves in a position to help. We shy away. It is not about “me first” for no other reason. That truly is selfish, self-centered and narcissistic. What it is about is making ourselves the best we can be, then using all that we are to work for positive, effective change in the world around us.