Selfishness is generally the negative characteristics we associate with
self-orientation. A selfish person is concerned only with him or herself, to the
detriment of everyone else.
Self-interest, on the other hand, can
encompass many of the positive characteristics of self-orientation. A
self-interested person makes sure his or her needs are satisfied and works
within the world to bring benefit (wealth, emotional health, etc.) to those
around him or her - because a healthy, normal person's happiness is linked to
the happiness of those around them and those who they care
Self-interest can be enlightened, productive, and in line with
everyone's best interests. Selfishness is generally destructive because the
selfish person doesn't just put his own needs first, he actively ignores or
works against everyone else's needs.
Everyone is a little bit
self-interested and a little bit selfish. We each have to find a healthy balance
of perspectives that fits with our roles in the world.