Babies show the world what selfish looks like. On a whim, they set up a wail loud enough to wake the dead–or at least it sounds that way at 2:00 a.m. No matter that others may be tired or sick or have to go to work. Babies want what they want when they want it. So stop sniveling.

Some ...Babies show the world what selfish looks like. On a whim, they set up a wail loud enough to wake the dead–or at least it sounds that way at 2:00 a.m. No matter that others may be tired or sick or have to go to work. Babies want what they want when they want it. So stop sniveling.

Some people grow large--even wrinkled--without ever leaving the "me first, me last, me always" stage. How do they get old without figuring out that selfishness is self-defeating? Selfishness destroys relationships. It makes trust impossible. It loses opportunities. And on. And on. And on. One bad thing after another.

Infants believe bad stuff is just the way life goes. With noses fully engaged in their navels, they miss the wider landscape of a better life–that of a grownup.

Growing up overcomes the bad stuff inherent in perpetual infancy. It’s a very good thing to do.

Given the worldwide shortage of grownups, though, it doesn't seem a popular thing to do.

What is it that grownups do that so lacks appeal to the infant mind? I’m so glad you asked.

• Grownups take responsibility for their actions. They don't blame others. What’s that about, asks the infant? Well, it’s about being a stand-up person that others can respect and rely on. But we have to experience it to know how fabulous that feels, so infants never figure it out.

• Grownups deal with the consequences of their actions. You mean like say, “I’m sorry?”
In fact, yes. Not to mention making amends. Then people trust you, and life improves.

• Grownups keep their eye on long-term goals, bypassing short-term pleasures to reach the big prize. They don't, for example, spend money they can't afford to pay for things they don't need just because they're in a funk. They don’t hide things from people they’re supposed to love. It’s about being dependable. Dependability bores infants, but it sure makes for a successful grownup life.

• Grownups care about others as well as themselves. They are considerate and thoughtful, but it’s not about being a patsy. Grownups expect others to be considerate and thoughtful also. This expectation keeps them from enabling bad behavior because enabling is infant behavior for the coddling of other infants.

• Grownups don't waste time checking that everything's `fair.' Excepting illegalities, they don't worry that somebody, somewhere might have something they don't. They do what's right, working openly and optimistically toward their own goals for their own rewards.

This “fair” business is big, though. To cite one huge example, take politics. Rather than focus on positive ideas for the future, too many political campaigns consist of whining about supposed unfairness. Worse yet, all this whining garners lots of votes from infants in a stew that somebody may be getting something they’re not. They don’t stop to consider it might be about hard work, taking considered risks and vision. Or, on the other side of the coin, that their own poor decision-making may be what’s hindering their progress. But no matter. They vote for nobody to have anything they don’t have. Period. Which leads us to the last point:

• Grownups expect to earn what they get. If a gift flies in the door, they’re happy to accept it, but they don’t expect it. And certainly don’t demand it.

Infants laugh at this list, believing their selfish ways are better. Well, the infantile way may appear easier, but only to those who don’t consider consequences. The grownup way brings freedom, confidence and self-acceptance. It’s a very good place to be.

Fortunately, change, if one can disengage nose from navel, is possible. And this article can start the infant on the road to real living.

Most infants won’t sign up for the trip, though. Why, they ask, work so hard to get to the boring place of accepting responsibility when, after all, it’s everybody else that’s out of step?

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be infants.

© Copyright 2007 by Bette Dowdell. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

About the author: Bette Dowdell is a former IBM Systems Engineer, a small business consultant and software company owner. She authored How to be a Christian Without Being Annoying, a book about how the Bible describes Christianity. You can read about both the book and contact Bette at http://www.ConfidentFaith.com . She also creates Quick Takes on Life, a no-cost, weekly e-mail subscription of original, motivational quotes. Watch a flash movie of the Quick Takes at http://takeabreakmovie.com. Read more of Bette's articles at http://www.ConfidentFaith.com/category/articles.