Friday, July 19, 2013

Reminder of Altruism

Altruism, the act of selflessness. We often see altruism as bringing joy to the "receiver" of the act. This is however, a view from the wrong angle.

At the simplest level, practicing altruism makes you happy. This has been scientifically proven in various studies. Performing an altruistic task brings happiness to oneself. It raises self esteem. It enables positive feelings not only towards a single person, but towards humanity.

Performing an altruistic action will increase your happiness. Will performing this same action do so, however, if this result is your goal? Will the altruistic nature be removed, or is it simply recognized? In my experience, it is the choice which brings happiness, not altruism itself. It is the choice to define yourself as such.

Let us apply this knowledge to improve our happiness. It is very simple.

It should be noted that altruism does not imply sacrifice of the self. It does not imply giving up a part of oneself to the group, or even one person. It can be achieved sometimes by sharing, trusting, and often with little or no real loss. Perhaps it costs one minute of your life to aid an elder person, perhaps it costs ten minutes of your income to raise someone above the poverty level. But what is the purpose of hoarding time if not to be happy? It is an easily overlooked path, yet it pays of immensely.

Imagine a society were altruism is the norm, not selfishness.
Did this fiction make you smile?