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Selfish, not self-centred: for in such a life my mind would be directed towards a thousand things, not one of which is myself. The distinction is not unimportant. One of the happiest men and most pleasing companions I have ever known was intently selfish. On the other hand I have known people capable of real sacrifice whose lives were nevertheless a misery to themselves and others, because self-concern and self-pity filled all their thoughts. Either condition will destroy the soul in the end. But till the end, give me the man who takes the best of everything (even at my expense) and then talks of other things, rather than the man who serves me and talks of himself, and whose very kindnesses are a continual reproach, a continual demand for pity, gratitude, and admiration.

From Surprised by Joy

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. Copyright © 1955 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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