When the world feels selfish, counter-attack by behaving totally the opposite.

It sometimes seems as though we live in a selfish world.

People allow shop doors to close behind them, without looking to see if there’s someone following. They don’t make way for others when they’re walking along a footpath. They carry on loud conversations on their phones right in your ear.

And these are just the minor irritations of everyday life. I’m sure you can think of much worse examples yourself.

So what’s the answer? Do you fight fire with fire? Do you become twice as selfish yourself?

Well I think (and hope) not.


There’s a lot of evidence that altruism can play a big part in overall mental wellbeing. In a neat twist, it turns out that doing good can actually make you feel good. And I suspect the reverse is equally true. Those who behave selfishly end up with lower moods.

I also hope that just occasionally our good manners can rub off on those who have lower standards when it comes to considerateness.

But even if you can’t make a dramatic change to your world, you can at least improve your own day by thinking about others.

Why not give it a try today?

3 thoughts on “When the world feels selfish, counter-attack by behaving totally the opposite.

  1. So true, Jon. As you well know, London in August is full of tourists and school children on holiday. Quite a few of them look hot, bothered or lost but it takes little to improve their day or mine. A simple smile is often enough to distract a stroppy toddler and pointing out a nearby cafe or bar can make all the difference. Taking a minute out of your day to give directions is such an easy way to help anyone who is struggling to find a route. They appear relieved and appreciative and I like to think that this small gesture produces a virtuous circle. Thank you for the reminder. Go well.

  2. I agree with the above comment and the post – here in Halifax we have so many tourists from the U.S. For sometimes live up to their reputation of being a little on the brusque side! As mentioned the heat and crowds and unfamiliar location ca leave tempers short. As well – tourists often expect a sleepy little village instead of a vigorous small “city” thus the well intention but irritating questions about igloos, sidewalks and even electricity ” pre internet days”!
    It used to make me quite cross but then I realized – it was an opportunity to educate and set a good example of patience and the politeness we have a well deserved reputation for as Canadians who accept all people equally!

  3. One of my favorite activities is to walk down a street and smile at people! Most of the time, I get a smile in return! As to holding doors or making way on a narrow path, I say “Thank you” even when they don’t hold the door or come at me like a charging bull when on a narrow footpath. Usually, they don’t hear me. But when they do, they begin to remember their manners!

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