10 things selfish people do that generous people don’t

Ever noticed how some people are always ready to help, while others only look out for themselves?

It’s a classic tale of generous versus selfish folks.

In this article, we’ll dig into 10 habits that show the difference between the two.

Understanding these behaviors not only helps us spot who’s who, but also guides those looking to be a bit more giving in their daily lives.

1. They Rarely Share

First and foremost, selfish people are typically not big on sharing.

Whether it’s their time, resources, or even just a piece of advice, they tend to keep things to themselves.

It’s a “me, myself, and I” kind of deal for them.

On the other hand, generous folks are all about sharing! They get an inner joy from helping others and don’t think twice before lending a hand, sharing their belongings, or giving out advice.

For them, sharing is caring, and caring brings happiness.

2. They Listen Less

Selfish people don’t listen as much as their generous peers. They’re so caught up in their own world that they sometimes forget that others have thoughts and feelings too.

You’ll often find them dominating conversations, focused on their own stories and experiences.

Generous people, however, are great listeners. They genuinely want to understand and learn from others.

They’ll often ask questions, show empathy and make the other person feel heard and valued.

3. They Often Put Their Needs First

You see, there was this guy I knew who always seemed to put his needs first. If we were deciding where to eat, it was his favorite restaurant.

If we were choosing a movie, it was the one he wanted to watch. He didn’t seem to consider what others might want or enjoy.

On the flip side, I have a friend who is incredibly generous. She always makes sure everyone else is comfortable before she thinks about herself. If we’re picking a place to eat, she’ll ask everyone for their preferences first.

If someone doesn’t have a ride to our get-together, she’ll go out of her way to pick them up.

It’s this kind of selflessness that sets generous people apart from the crowd.

4. They Have Difficulty Apologizing

Selfish people often have a hard time saying sorry. Apologizing means admitting they were wrong, which isn’t easy when you’re focused on your own perspective.

Individuals who demonstrate higher levels of selfishness are less likely to apologize as it involves admitting their mistakes, which can hurt their self-image.

Generous people, however, aren’t afraid to admit when they’re wrong. They understand that everyone makes mistakes and that saying sorry is a way to learn and grow.

5. They Struggle to Celebrate Others’ Success

When someone else succeeds, they might feel a pang of envy or a sense of unfairness.

They struggle to separate their own ambitions and self-interests from the accomplishments of others.

In contrast, generous individuals possess the beautiful ability to celebrate others’ happiness as if it were their own.

They radiate joy when a friend lands that dream job, or when a sibling gets engaged.

They understand that life isn’t a competition; there’s room for everyone to win.

6. They Tend to Hold Grudges

I once knew someone who had a real knack for holding grudges. If you crossed her once, she’d remember it forever. She found it difficult to let go of past mistakes or differences, often allowing old wounds to affect her present relationships.

On the other hand, I also know someone who’s the embodiment of generosity.

This person has shown me that forgiveness isn’t just about the other person – it’s about freeing yourself from the burden of resentment.

He’s been wronged in the past, just like anyone else, but he chooses to forgive and move forward, rather than dwell on past hurts.

Life’s too short for grudges, don’t you think? 

7. They Often Take More Than They Give

Selfish people are often takers, not givers. T

hey look out for opportunities to benefit themselves, even if it means taking more than their fair share.

It’s a harsh reality, but it’s true: some people just don’t play fair.

Generous people, though? They’re the givers of the world. They’ll give you the last slice of pizza, their spare time, even their shoulder to lean on – without expecting anything in return.

They understand that true joy comes from giving, not taking.

8. They Lack Empathy

Selfish people often struggle to put themselves in others’ shoes.

They’re so focused on their own feelings and experiences that they overlook those of others.

In contrast, generous people excel in showing empathy. They can understand and share the feelings of others, offering comfort, support, and kindness when it’s needed most.

9. They Avoid Responsibility

Selfish individuals often shirk responsibility, especially when things go awry.

They are quick to point fingers and place blame on others, avoiding accountability for their actions or decisions.

This behavior can be quite frustrating for those around them who are left to pick up the pieces.

By avoiding responsibility, they also miss out on valuable opportunities for personal growth and learning.

On the other hand, generous people are more likely to take responsibility for their actions and their consequences.

They understand that part of being a mature and caring individual is owning up to one’s mistakes and learning from them.

Generous folks tend to be reliable and dependable, always ready to take responsibility, be it in their personal or professional lives.

10. They Lack Gratitude

A noticeable trait among selfish individuals is a lack of gratitude.

They often take people and their kindness for granted, focusing more on what they don’t have rather than appreciating what they do have.

This lack of gratitude can lead to a constant desire for more, which perpetuates their selfish behavior.

They might overlook the efforts of others or fail to acknowledge the good in their lives, leading to a negative outlook and dissatisfaction.

Conversely, generous people tend to practice gratitude regularly. They appreciate the little things in life, express thanks to others, and recognize the value of what they have.

Gratitude enables them to maintain a positive outlook, which in turn nurtures their generous spirit.

By appreciating the kindness and efforts of others, they foster a culture of generosity and positivity, making the world a better place one act of gratitude at a time.


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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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