Altruism: Positive Compassion

''Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least
of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me.''
— Matthew 25:40

by Michael Corthell

''We are selfish.'' ''Greed is really good.'' ''Altruism is a dream.'' ''Cooperation is for idiots and fools.'' ''Competition is a natural human state, so war is inevitable.'' ''The bad in human nature is stronger than the good.''

Those negative comments come from people who obviously have a negative mindset, and this mindset is a learned way of thinking. Being positive or negative minded is a choice, therefore there are no excuses. 

One of the greatest joys in life is to
work together for the benefit of all.

Human beings are born with compassion. It is an inborn, a God given attribute that has allowed the human species survive. However, the level of compassion each one of us practices can be highly variable, as well as selective.

''We belong to each other''

Modern studies on compassion reveal our inborn nature for caring. These studies support a view that our emotions are rational, functional, and adaptive. Compassion and benevolence, new research studies suggest, are an evolved part of human nature, rooted in our brain, and in our biology. They ready to be cultivated for the greater good of all humankind.

Feeling compassion is one thing; acting on it is another matter. We still must confront a vital question: Does compassion promote altruistic behavior?

The now famous Milgram experiment asked participants watch another person receive shocks when he failed a memory task. Then they were asked to take shocks on behalf of the participant, who, they were told, had experienced a shock trauma as a child. Those participants who had reported that they felt compassion for the other individual volunteered to take several shocks for that person, even when they were free to leave the experiment. Compassion, and empathy.

Generally, people want to do good deeds and help others. Can we do better? Obviously the answer is yes. So, how can we individually train ourselves to be more giving, and even more altruistic?

The key to developing compassion in your life by making it a daily practice, so it becomes routine.

FIRST, Love yourself first. You may have to practice this for months depending on your personality. This first step is essential.  Treat yourself with loving kindness and do the things that nurture you, make you stronger, and make you proud of who you are and how you live your life. Exercise, meditate, and eating a plant based diet all work well.

Understand that we are all the same. The similarities between any two human beings is striking from our DNA to our spiritual core. We are the same just on different paths to our own destinies. Keep this in mind, always.  Commit yourself to feeling unconditional love and compassion for yourself and others. We all need this awareness to develop even deeper compassion.

Be a servant of mankind. There is no better way for us to find compassion within ourselves and for others like coming face to face and coming to terms with the fact that there are people in the world who have much less in life than we have. Love and help as much as you can and for as long as you can.  Will it and do it—over and over again.

Love and trust God to help you. This last step is actually the first and the last step in developing greater compassion. Do it first, last and everywhere in between. And expect the power of God's infinite love to always be there to help and guide you. 

FINALLY, altruism is can be very contagious: When we give, we don't only help the immediate recipient of our gift. We also spread the spirit of compassion to other people and through our communities.


How to let altruism be your guide

by Matthieu Ricard

What is altruism? Put simply, it's the wish that other people may be happy. And, says Matthieu Ricard, a happiness researcher and a Buddhist monk, altruism is also a great lens for making decisions, both for the short and long term, in work and in life.