Go Ahead, Be Selfish

I love to work out.

There are few things in life that will keep me from my daily run, trip to the gym or at least thirty minutes of daily exercise. I’ve run through every climate you can imagine in just about every continent in the world. I’ve also been known to walk out of a business meeting or two because it was cutting into an appointment with my very expensive trainer.

What started out as a New Year’s resolution to get fit nearly thirty years ago, has turned into a commitment with myself that I rarely miss.

Those thirty minutes I spend during a solitary run or with a group of friends at the gym give me a chance to recharge, both mentally and physically. It’s a kind of meditation that borders on the sacred and allows me to return to my life refreshed, focused, and happy.

The opposite though is somewhat frightening.

My family, friends, coworkers, even my dog know when I’ve missed too many workouts. A cranky toddler having a hissy fit at the mall can’t hold a candle to what I’m like if I deny myself those thirty minutes of alone time each day.

Taken at face value, this may seem like the most selfish, shallow act in the world. But if you were to see me during those occasional weeks when I go more than three days in a row without working up a sweat, you’d pack my gym bag for me.

Working out is one of the most loving things I do on a daily basis. Hear me out.

The Bible tells us “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” And whether you believe this is a mandate sent down by God almighty or just a nice reminder to not hurt one another, you may have overlooked the fact that this commandment is made up of two parts.

The first part – “Love your neighbor” – is used as a weapon from the pulpit to the playground to every battlefield in between to keep the peace. Yet, both preachers and teachers alike often forget part two of that commandment – “as you love yourself.”

If you’re going to love your neighbor, you better love yourself first. The more you love yourself, the more you’ll love others. The more time you take for yourself, the more time you’re going to have for others.
For me, that means exercising every day – not just for the physical benefits, but for the mental and spiritual ones as well.

But if exercise isn’t your idea of loving yourself, find something that is. It might be curling up with a good book at the end of the day, writing in a journal, or even just turning off your cell phone for 20 minutes of uninterrupted quiet in the middle of a busy day. Whatever it is, do it.

In time you’ll realize that this selfish act is the most selfless thing you can do for others.

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