Selfishness Can someone really act selflessly

Altruism: Is Selflessness Worth It?

We seem to live in a world where everyone only thinks of themselves. In the competition with colleagues we want to prevail at any price, some are even ready to lie or to gain an advantage in an unfair way - the main thing is that in the end you benefit yourself. For altruism There seems to be no place here, true to the motto: If I don't think of myself, nobody does it at all. So behind every good deed is the question: Are you harming yourself with altruism because someone else is shamelessly exploiting your selflessness for their own benefit? However, if you look at and understand the concept of altruism a little more precisely, it quickly becomes apparent that the answer to this question is not as important as it initially seems ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what is altruism?

Altruism is often equated with helpfulness. Although these two are related and partly belong together, they cannot be used completely synonymously. To describe the context correctly, it should read: Helpfulness is part of altruism, a characteristic and a behavior through which a person's altruistic intentions become clear.

Altruism is best described as the exact opposite of selfishness understand. It is an attitude and a way of thinking, but above all a behavior that shows itself to the outside world. There are always disagreements about a uniform and general definition, but the core of altruism can be summarized succinctly:

Altruism is the conscious, deliberate, and voluntary behavior of doing something for someone else without expecting any benefit from it.

Appropriate synonyms that are used more frequently in everyday language are selflessness or altruism. This already shows why the question raised at the beginning does not correspond to altruism: Whoever acts genuinely selflessly and only has the benefit of another person in mind does not care whether he himself may be at a disadvantage.

Altruism is characterized by the fact that no benefit expected and it is accepted that one has expenses or costs (which do not have to be financial) without getting anything in return. A true altruist does not care whether he is harmed as long as he has been able to help someone else through his actions.

Sounds really noble, but unfortunately it is also one absolute rarity.

Factors influencing altruistic behavior

Are you altruistic and willing to help others completely unselfish to stand by your side? In the first moment you will certainly answer with a clear answer Yes. This reaction arises from the mostly positive self-image that everyone has of themselves. As a rule, however, the question cannot be answered quite so clearly.

In other words, whether someone acts altruistically depends on various factors from. This ...

  • Qualification

    If you are to act altruistically, you need to feel that it is indeed in your power to be helpful. You need to be able to make a difference and contribute with your intervention.

  • sympathy

    If we sympathize with other people, it is more likely that altruistic behavior will be shown. For example, if you don't like a colleague at all, you will not help them as readily as you would a particularly friendly colleague with whom you get along very well.

  • root cause

    Has the person you want to help slipped into the predicament through no fault of their own and unhappily? Or is he responsible for the current situation himself? In the first case, more people are prone to altruism because it could happen to anyone, which leads to greater compassion. If it is their own fault, more people follow the approach He made the soup himself and has to spoon it out too ...

True altruism with no ulterior motive is rare

Not everything that looks like altruism is actually selfless behavior. In fact, in many cases, it's the exact opposite: Selfishness, manipulation and ulterior motives. The difference can be illustrated with two simple examples.

A classic example of altruism is a father who goes for a walk with his child. Suddenly it starts raining cats and dogs, but the two only have a small umbrella with them, which is just enough for one of them. Without hesitation, the father opens the umbrella and holds it over the child while he is completely soaked himself. All his thoughts and actions are aimed at keeping the child dry and protected. he doesn't expect anything from it himself, not even a thank you, and he absolutely doesn't mind the fact that he gets wet and possibly catches a cold.

This is altruism in its purest form. Now for the second example: A colleague comes to you and offers to take over your shift on the weekend because you had to work last Saturday. At first glance, this is also altruistic behavior, after all benefit from the nice gesture and the colleague has none of it.

A few weeks later, however, this very colleague arrives and asks you if you could take over his work on the weekend. He may not say it out loud, but of course you remember him standing in for you. So the idea behind this from the beginning was that he himself will need your help in a while. The Use for his actions was not immediately apparent, but it was certainly an ulterior motive.

This is exactly how it is very often in reality. By apparent altruism one's own intentions are camouflaged, although only one's own gain is thought of. Such calculating and insidious behavior annoys most of those affected even more, as they justifiably feel manipulated.

Even if you help others to receive their thanks and appreciation, do not act really altruistically, but pursue a clear goal and expect a benefit. For example, the desire for approval and confirmation can give the appearance of altruism, even though it only shows a lack of self-esteem.

Sayings and quotes about altruism

  • Self-sacrifice is the real miracle from which all other miracles spring.Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • To a certain extent one should be selfless out of selfishness.Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
  • Should it flow abundantly to you, let others enjoy it abundantly.Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Unselfishness arouses suspicion like any eccentric who approaches us unexpectedly.Emanuel Wertheimer
  • The good man thinks of himself last.Friedrich Schiller
  • Only when one is selfless can one achieve something for the whole.Friedrich I.
  • Selflessness is mature selfishness.Oscar Wilde
  • Most people spoil their own lives with a certain amount of unhealthy, forced altruism.Oscar Wilde
  • The ideal person feels joy when he can serve others.Aristotle
  • Selfishness speaks all languages ​​and plays all roles, even selflessness.François VI. Duke de La Rochefoucauld

Advantages: How to benefit from altruism yourself

It sounds contradicting itself, because in altruism everything is geared towards benefiting others without receiving anything yourself. But even if that is your full intention and you actually have no expectations of your own, you can still benefit from it.

Without intending to do so, altruism has some benefits not only for others but also for yourself:

  • Altruism makes you happy

    First of all: Helping makes you happy. To see that you can make a contribution yourself to make someone else feel better or make them happy is an extremely good feeling. Even little things that put a smile on the face of others can lead to more happiness and satisfaction with yourself. For some, even their own actions can take on a whole new meaning in this way.

  • Altruism illustrates the positive

    In addition to greater satisfaction, altruism can also lead to greater gratitude and focus on the positive things in life. By unselfishly helping others who may be worse off than yourself, you learn to appreciate what you have, what you have, and what you can do.

  • Altruism encourages imitators

    On top of that you are great Influence on your environment can take. Practiced altruism has a positive effect on those around you. Based on Gandhi's quote Be the change you want to see in the world yourself you can set a good example, put your own needs aside and act selflessly.

    Others will also perceive your behavior and possibly reflect on their own thoughts and actions and then change them. This creates a reciprocal altruism based on reciprocity. By being selfless inspire others too to do the same to you - this is how you can promote altruism and create an environment in which everyone is willing to do something for the other, even unselfishly.

Dangers of Altruism: Don't Overdo It

However, there are also some dangers lurking in altruism, which you should approach with the necessary caution. First of all, you should take care of yourself not completely sacrificing for others and completely forget your own needs. Every now and then everyone has to think of themselves, especially for their own health.

You should also ask where your altruism comes from. Are you perhaps just looking for recognition and confirmation and are you trying to please everyone else? If this is the case, you not only run the risk of overwhelming yourself because you cannot say no and thus burden yourself more and more, but also one develop serious helper syndrome.

The best way to escape the risks of altruism is to find a healthy balance. Selfless behavior can be assessed positively, it can be part of your personality, makes you sympathetic and can bring you satisfaction. However, it should always be kept in moderation, because permanent altruism quickly turns into the opposite.

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