There are some who say that it is impossible to do things for others without personal gain for ourselves. I do not believe this as it does not resonate with me as a truth. The truth always arrives with an “aha moment” and this statement does not provide it for me. Therefore it does not meet my definition of “true for Brad”.
What does resonate with me as a truth is that I will always benefit from helping others. It is an important distinction to me as it changes the negative (greed for personal to gain) to a positive (benefit for helping others). I shall leave it up to the semanticists to argue the difference…smile.
So what is this thing called Altruism? Why practice it? When I do know I am doing it? In the animal kingdom altruistic behaviour is something done by one for another in which the receiver gains while the giver loses. This goes against the more commonly believed “survival of the fittest” theory of which Darwin made famous. Some even refer to it as an evolutionary theory of its own, aptly named “survival of the nicest”. I don’t know about you but I would be very comfortable living in a modern world where “survival of the nicest” is the normative value.
Apart from your reasons for becoming altruistic the fact remains that it is one of the four foundation pillars to our deep happiness. We must help to be happy. The way to become altruistic is to pick an organization that interests you, for example, Habitat for Humanity is one that I have volunteered with over the years. Then you contact them and tell them you would like to volunteer. At my office a group of us do it together. We actually have two teams and have some friendly competition to see who built more of the houses. It is fun, we learn and people benefit. There are many places looking for volunteers, pick something you would enjoy doing, close to your home or work and only contribute as much time and energy as you want. You are a volunteer not a martyr.
But aside from the animal kingdom and a discussion on survivalist theory, or the logistics of volunteering, or whether it is necessary to lose something in the process of your giving, the real reason for helping others is that it feels good, for them and for us. What possible reason could there be for not helping another when both parties benefit. It seems so simple. It seems so natural. It seems so right. At least that is the way I see it.