Being an altruist

January 26, 2023by Editorial Team
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In todays world, it is evident we prioritise instant gratification and results, and subsequently, this sees individuals emphasising the rhetoric of ‘what’s in it for me?’, instead of ‘what is best for all?’ or ‘what is best for future generations?’. This cannot be the way we think. We must change for the betterment of the planet and for the current and future generations.

What is Altruism

“Altruism” is  taking decisions without an expectation of personal gain , it is the unselfish concern for other people  simply out of desire to  help . It is a voluntary, costly behavior motivated by the desire to help another individual.  Compassion and empathy drive Altruism.


What causes Altruism?

Altruism is a manifestation of  prosocial behaviour. It refers to any action that benefits other people, irrespective of  the motive or  benefit. Everyday Life is filled with small acts of altruism, from holding the door for strangers to giving money to people in need.

People are more likely to engage in altruistic behavior when they feel empathy for the person in distress, a suggestion known as the empathy-altruism hypothesis. Children also tend to become more altruistic as their sense of empathy develops.

 We see tensions brooding in the international arena concerning Altruism when we consider  President Trump’s announcement on 1 June 2017 of the United States withdrawing from the Paris Agreement because he believed this would not be beneficial for his country and would put them at a disadvantage. The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty for reduction in global warming. This action was contradicted by the 183 nations and the European Union who had ratified the Paris Agreement because of the need for urgent and serious action on climate change at a global level.

On the other hand, we have also seen Google Co-founder Sergey Brin secretly donate about 1.1 billion US dollars for Parkinson’s disease research. 


How can we show Altruism

An altruistic person does not wait for the perfect opportunities to be selfless and help. They are proactive and find ways to help others like they volunteer in their community, donate money to current relief efforts and offer their help readily to anyone in need. Self doubt has no place in an altruistic act. They are convinced that they are truly making the lives of those around them better and thereby their own lives better as well.

Some everyday ways of showing altruistic behaviour are by doing something to help another with no expectation of reward, forgoing things that may bring personal benefit but create value for others, sharing  resources with the the needy even in face of scarcity.


Impact of Altruism

We feel a sense of elevation when we see another person act virtuously or perform such an act ourselves. Researchers have found that people report a significant happiness boost after doing kind deeds for others.  Some studies suggest giving to others makes people feel happier than spending money on themselves; this has even been found among kids. It can promote physiological changes in the brain linked with happiness. Helping others can also improve our support networks and encourage us to be more active. This, in turn, can improve our self-esteem. Doing good does you good. It creates a sense of belonging and reduces isolation. Helping others, especially those less fortunate than yourself, can help put things into perspective and make you feel more positive. This has a contagious effect and has the potential to make the world a happier place. It may also encourage others to repeat the good deed that they have experienced themselves – contributing to a more positive community.


About the authors

The article has been contributed by the following students from St. Joseph’s HIgh School, Matigara, Darjeeling: Lahmeen Dolma Lama, Sriyukta Thapa, Maryann Beck, Sharanya Choudhury, Bhavna Chetri and Yeshashvi Chettri.



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