When is it good to aggressively pursue your personal interests?

It can be good to aggressively purse one's personal interests depending on the interest and the ramifications of pursuing said interest. Reflecting on these short- and long-term effects is crucial when identifying whether an aggressive approach is necessary or beneficial.

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There are two ambiguities to clear up before you answer this question. "Aggression" has a spectrum of meanings, ranging from "confident self-assertion" at one end to "violent attack" at the other. You will need to settle on an interpretation of "aggressive pursuit" to give a consistent answer. In this case, the best interpretation of aggression seems to be something like "disregard for the interests or feelings of others." The second point is the meaning of the word "interests." Are these matters which interest you, or which benefit you (perhaps in the long term)? To give a concrete example, suppose that you are very interested in theater, and a play which you have always wanted to see is being staged for one night. You have an important examination the next morning. To see the play is to pursue your interests in the first sense, to study for the exam is to pursue them in the second.

Having clarified these matters, think of 5–10 personal interests in either the first or the second sense. The context suggests that the second is more likely to be the type of interest the questioner intended, but the two often intersect in that it is in your interest to spend you time doing things that interest you. In any case, the important point is how to determine whether you should aggressively pursue these interests or not. One way of deciding this is to imagine yourself as a character in a novel or story. If this character were to aggressively pursue the interests you have identified, would you think s/he was doing the right thing? Would s/he appear justified or selfish? Would the pursuit of these interests harm others more than it would benefit the protagonist? Thinking about these issues in the third person can help you to see the picture more clearly by correcting the natural tendency to focus on oneself.

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