“I’m doing this for myself. This is what I want.”

I thought of you when I read this quote from “The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun” by Gretchen Rubin –

“We hugged—for at least six seconds, which, I happened to know from my research, is the minimum time necessary to promote the flow of oxytocin and serotonin, mood-boosting chemicals that promote bonding. The moment of tension passed. This exchange led me to an important insight into how to manage myself better. I’d been self-righteously telling myself that I did certain chores or made certain efforts “for Jamie”or “for the team.”

Though this sounded generous, it led to a bad result, because I sulked when Jamie didn’t appreciate my efforts. Instead, I started to tell myself, “I’m doing this for myself. This is what I want.”

I wanted to send out Valentine’s cards. I wanted to clean out the kitchen cabinets. This sounded selfish, but in fact, it was less selfish, because it meant I wasn’t nagging to get a gold star from Jamie or anyone else. No one else even had to notice what I’d done. I remember talking to a friend whose parents had been very involved in the civil rights movement. “They always said,”he told me, “that you have to do that kind of work for yourself. If you do it for other people, you end up wanting them to acknowledge it and to be grateful and to give you credit. If you do it for yourself, you don’t expect other people to react in a particular way.”I think that’s right.”

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