At some level, all successful relationships rely on a mutual exchange of benefits. I'm not just talking about romantic interests or even friendships. No, every single time we open our mouths to speak to another human being there is an agenda at work. What sets humans above animals is the level to which we conceal our agendas in the pursuit of shared interests. At first this idea scared me a lot... it made me uneasy at work and in social situations, always wondering what people wanted out of me and sometimes what I was trying to get out of them. The machievellian precision of it all began to knaw at my conscience. The walls closed in and I felt a bit ill at the thought of it all.
Just now, as I became aware of the breath in my chest, I realized that observation of the truth doesn't make it any worse. If what you don't know can't hurt you, then neither can knowing it hurt you unless you allow it to. There are infinitely many disturbing truths about life, but in the end your quality of life depends more on your own thoughts and feelings than on abstract psychological trends in others. As much as we are bumped and prodded by the whimsy of fate, we all have the mental freedom to fit the world into whatever paradigm we want.
Even if the worst case scenario is true: that we are ultimately all machines bent on personal gratification, the implication that goodness and love are somehow less pure as a result is nothing more than the debunking of a pleasant fantasy. Likewise, extrapolating the concept to a belief that people are fundamentally selfish and evil is also the misapplication of a fact.
We all have such overarching ideas about the world to help us through life. Some of these worldviews are optimistic, and some pessimistic, but they all exist to satisfy the human need for comprehension of the universe. We consistently perform this abstraction of facts to create a more ordered world, and satisfy our finite brains' need for knowledge. I suppose if you're happy then there's no reason to change, but if you're vaguely dissatisfied (as I am) or even outright depressed (for non-chemical reasons), then dismantling and replacing some of these oversimplifications is in order. Can you find them?
Every little thing is exactly what it is and nothing more...