I suppose that most psychologists would argue that there is no such thing as true ‘selfless giving’ but I can think of one or two people I know that are extremely generous in mind and deed and who I would be inclined to call them ‘selfless’. To be clear, my definition of a ‘selfless giver’ is one who gives (or does) for others without any expectation of something in return. To test the psychologists line of argument, let’s imagine a situation where you did a good deed for someone, without them even knowing it was you. What could the possible benefits be for you in return?
- Pleasure in doing the action itself (it was a fun act)?
- The inner joy of knowing you had done something good.
- The possibility of looking good in the eyes of others?
- Enjoying the smile or ‘thank you’ from the receiver, even if it is not aimed at you personally?
- The deep knowledge and self-satisfaction of knowing that you made a difference, made something better for someone else?
I am running out of benefits for this situation and it makes me wonder that even if the reward is one or more of the above, then I would still think of them as being selfless in their actions.
I believe us humans have a collective advantage when individuals voluntarily help one another, without thought of something in return. I guess it must be programmed into us in one way or another. And because of this I think it is important that we try and encourage it further in ourselves, to be on the look out for opportunities to help others without expecting something back. There’s too much emphasis on gloom and doom and ‘what’s in it for me’ in our media that I think we should not be fooled by it. If we try and focus on the small stuff that makes a difference in our immediate neighbourhood, not just in times of disaster but also in good times too, everyone feels better and has more fun.
Have a good week