Philosophy

Why is Altruism important to the society?

4 Mins read
altruism

Here is an altruism quote to make this article feel exquisite; “When you are able to shift your inner awareness to how you can serve others, and when you make this the central focus of your life, you will then be in a position to know true miracles in your progress toward prosperity.” – Wayne W. Dyer

I’m a Christian. There goes a fun fact about me. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Acts 20:35;

There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”

This very verse shows the importance of altruism. Through religion and standard ethical morals, we have been taught to always be kind, generous and concerned for other people’s well being. This is an emotional intelligence skill that helps us our social skills and social management.

Altruism helps us connect with other people by being empathetic and connecting with other people’s suffering.

What is altruism

In psychology, ethics and sociology, altruism is the act of acting for the benefit of someone else apart from yourself, its the concern and care for someone else’s well being.

We often behave altruistically when we see others in desperate circumstances and feel empathy and a desire to help. Altruism is selfless since there is nothing to be gained by it but seeing the satisfaction in someone else’s eyes.1

How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.

Adam smith

Everybody has bits of altruism here and there, this ranges from holding the door for a stranger, helping an old lady with her luggage, tipping the waiter more than expected, giving money to the homeless. However, most people tend to focus more on the extreme cases of altruism such as the cases we see in the news of a man diving into a burning house to save a kid.

As glamorous as these cases are, its important to remember that the most meaningful things in life are the million little things, not the gigantic few ones.

Although a lot of philosophers and thinkers have come to believe that humans are driven by selfish tendencies, altruism proves otherwise. You have heard of people say, “Love is the most selfish of all the passions.”

Altruism is more of a skill rather than a character, in my opinion. Its the skill to be able to manifest empathy for another person, to selflessly give consideration to their needs and act in accordance to what will make them happy. Their happiness brings you happiness, and that, for me, is not selfishness.

Importance/benefits of altruism in the society/ as a social skill

Caring for other people selflessly has been quoted to be one of the “keys” to happiness. The Bible and religion in general has over the years advocated for putting other people’s needs above our own.

Brings about happiness

2 According to Jenny Santi at the Times, the secret to happiness is helping others. ‘There is a Chinese saying that goes: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” For centuries, the greatest thinkers have suggested the same thing: Happiness is found in helping others.

For it is in giving that we receive — Saint Francis of Assisi

The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity — Leo Tolstoy

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give — Winston Churchill

Making money is a happiness; making other people happy is a superhappiness — Nobel Peace Prize receipient Muhammad Yunus

Giving back is as good for you as it is for those you are helping, because giving gives you purpose. When you have a purpose-driven life, you’re a happier person — Goldie Hawn’

Helps our society grow and thrive

If everybody put more effort to being altruistic, the society would thrive through mutual caring and selfless acts. How many wars and crimes have been committed over petty issues and ego based pride. We often find ourselves caring so much about ourselves and forget the consequences of our actions on other people.

Altruism tells us that by mutually caring for the other human being, then we will be able to focus more on what is beneficial for the whole society rather than what is good for us as individuals.

“Students must be taught in an environment filled with encouragement and justice, in which each student is seen as a lovable human being, not only as a vessel to be filled. When each student feels that he or she is important and worthwhile, while being helped to learn, then our world will be a better place.”- Elizabeth Midlarsky, professor of psychology and education.

Shapes your character

Its hard to find a person who is nice and kind committing a crime, unless the person is a psychopath of course. Same applies to someone who is altruistic. Altruism is an ability that encompasses a lot of good traits.

Altruistic people have their characters shaped through kindness, selflessness and, empathy. It has reached a point where the education system in school and at home must transcend the acquisition of facts only but also teach social skills and proper/moral behavior that are beneficial to everyone’s happiness such as altruism.

Inspires other people – altruism is contagious

Moral elevation is the warm fuzzy feeling that you get when you see someone perform a kind/heroic act. Past studies have found that moral elevation inspires optimism, and makes people want to be a better person and to act altruistically toward others.

Want a little moral elevation of your own? Try watching this emotional scene from It’s A Wonderful Lifepsychologist Jill Suttie advises:


I’d love to hear from you. How do you see the role of altruism in your professional and personal life?

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

Footnotes

  1. But again, I could argue that this too is selfish since the act still has a benefit to the giver. Food for thought. – Neel, B. (2012). Does true altruism exist. Retrieved from Psychologytoday.com
  2. Jenny Santi. The secret to happiness is helping others. Retrieved from times.com.
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About author
I'm a psychology enthusiast and a fried chicken lover. I write bite sized articles unpacking the complexities of the human mind. The mission is to advocate for what's more important in life - the pursuit of the truth and the highest good one can do with that truth - for themselves, the people around them and the society as a whole.
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