Quotes on Selfishness, Selflessness

See also: D&C 56:8

A selfless person is one who is more concerned about the happiness and well-being of another than about his or her own convenience or comfort, one who is willing to serve another when it is neither sought for nor appreciated, or one who is willing to serve even those whom he or she dislikes.  A selfless person displays a willingness to sacrifice, a willingness to purge from his or her mind and heart personal wants, and needs, and feelings.  Instead of reaching for and requiring praise and recognition for himself, or gratification of his or her own wants, the selfless person will meet these very human needs for others.” — Elder H. Burke Peterson, “Selflessness: A Pattern for Happiness,” Ensign, May 1985, p. 65

To one degree or another we all struggle with selfishness.  Since it is so common, why worry about selfishness anyway?  Because selfishness is really self-destruction in slow motion.  No wonder the Prophet Joseph Smith urged, “Let every selfish feeling be not only buried, but annihilated” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 178).  Hence annihilation – not moderation – is the destination! . . . Meekness is the real cure, for it does not merely mask selfishness but dissolves it! — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, May 1999, p. 23

To do the special things given to this generation, you will need to guard against selfishness.  One of the tendencies most individuals have which simply must be overcome is the tendency to be selfish.  All that you can do now while you are young and are more pliant to become less selfish and more selfless will be an important and lasting contribution to the quality of your life in the years, and in the eternity, to come.  You will be a much better wife or a much better husband, a better mother or a better father, if you can change the tendency to be selfish.  Your children whom you will not know for a few years yet have an interest in your conquest of selfishness.

As in all things, we have the example of the Savior on the cross at Calvary.  He did something that he was not forced to do – something which would benefit others with the gift of immortality which Jesus already had.  His was the supreme act of selflessness.

You may recall reading in 3 Nephi about the visit of the resurrected Jesus to this continent and how after blessing the children he wept twice and he also said, “And now behold, my joy is full” (3 Ne. 17:20).

True joy can only come from giving ourselves to correct causes such as the building up of the kingdom, causes that are in a sense larger than we are.  Pleasure tends to be self-centered.  True joy always includes others.

Now is the time to set your life’s goals.  Now is the time to set your standards firmly and then hold to them throughout your life. — President Spencer W. Kimball

Jesus put everything on the altar without fanfare or bargaining.  Both before and after His astonishing atonement, He declared, “Glory be to the Father.”  (D&C 19:19; Moses 4:2)  Jesus, stunningly brilliant, nevertheless allowed His will to be “swallowed up in the will of the Father.”  (Mosiah 15:7; see also John 6:38.)  Those with pride-hardened minds are simply unable to do this.

Stubborn selfishness leads otherwise good people to fight over herds, patches of sand, and strippings of milk.  All this results from what the Lord calls coveting “the drop,” while neglecting the “more weighty matters.”  (D&C 117:8)  Myopic selfishness magnifies a mess of pottage and makes thirty pieces of silver look like a treasure trove.  In our intense acquisitiveness, we forget Him who once said, “What is property unto me?”  (D&C 117:4) — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Put Off the Natural Man, and Come Off Conqueror,” Ensign, November 1990, p. 14

Those who “live without God in the world” anxiously glean their few and fleeting satisfactions, but they are unable to find real happiness. . . . Ignorant of the plan of salvation, many simply do not know what the journey of life is all about.  Therefore, modern selfishness and skepticism brush aside the significance of the Savior. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, March 1998, p. 9

This gospel we have received is one of sacrifice, service and self-abnegation from beginning to end.  That is what constitutes the straight and narrow way that leads to life eternal.  Some of us are more faithful, some are less faithful than others in our sacrifices. My brethren and sisters, there will come a time of accounting, and we will he judged and rewarded according to the sacrifices which we make, and the services we render to God and to our fellowmen.  Let me tell you here that when we undertake to glorify our Father in heaven by living a good life, we help others along the way.  Religion, true religion of the Master, is so different from politics.  When we aspire to an office as politicians, and become candidates, our only hope of success is in the defeat and disappointment of somebody else.  In this great work, if I, through the help of the Lord, shall be successful in saving my own soul, it will be through works of righteousness, through a good example which will be helpful, and no person will be deprived of the blessings he is laboring for because of my success, but just the reverse, he will be helped along the way.  Now in this work of sacrifice and of service, we need encouragement, and stimulation. — Elder George F. Richards, General Conference, October 1920

Thus worshiping, serving, studying, praying, each in its own way squeezes selfishness out of us; pushes aside our preoccupations with the things of the world. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell