Why do We Want to Help the World?December 9, 2020 · Aaron Burr
If we went around and asked people whether or not they wanted to help the planet and make a difference, most of us would probably say yes.
But why is that?🕵️♀️
Is it because most of us possess altruistic traits that make us want to help others?
Or is it out of self preservation, self fulfillment, or happiness? In other words, is it mostly because it just feels good to help?
Possibly a better question is: does it matter the reasons? Maybe. Maybe not.
We’ll be looking at a couple things in this week’s article. One of them is this idea that humans are inherently altruistic beings, and simply want to be of service to others and the planet. The other is how having a bigger purpose, or living according to our values has an affect on our fulfillment and dare I even say...our happiness.
Compassion makes us happier
Being kind, giving to others, or to a cause, has shown to not only help the world, but also our own happiness or fulfillment. A specific study could be cited like this one here.
Or, one could simply head over to a branch of Stanford Medicine known as The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). Here we’ll find article after article showing evidence about how showing compassion towards others makes us happier.
How cool is it that Stanford has this?! I mean...it's backed by the Dalai Lama! 🧘🏽♂️
We’ve probably all experienced it at some point. 🤝Helping someone in need, gift giving, even when we don’t want to do these things we almost always feel those good feelings afterwards. And it is perfectly okay to help others to help ourselves.
Now, all of our live’s issues won’t be solved by helping others, but in many instances this could relieve some of the tension and pain that we are experiencing from other things.
Altruism comes natural, maybe
🥼Psychologists, sociologists, and neuroscientists have been battling it out for quite some time trying to figure something out: what makes humans altruistic?
Some are saying it’s been ingrained in us to help our community, our tribe, or village because it will in turn help us. Others, are going back to what we talked about above and state we are altruistic simply because it makes us feel good.
Either way, maybe it’s all about us...which is maybe okay, especially if we are looking out for us in ways that benefit all. 🌳
But, there is also a more...spiritual minded approach to why we do these things. And that approach or thinking is that we help others because in a sense, we are them. We are all connected, and that’s not only limited to humans, but all beings as well.
While a lot of studies are geared towards how we treat other humans, many conclusions have been applied and made for our ability to show compassion in general. Not just towards humans.
Acting on who we are
If it is in our nature to help our community, our village, or the world, if we truly are connected to all living beings, or if we simply feel better from helping others...then what is getting in our way from acting on these things?
Maybe it’s 💵money, the appearance of success, or this self (or society) imposed belief that we are all in competition. Luckily though, these ideas of ownership, competition, and inequality, are relatively recent phenomena in human history. And while it may be very difficult to return to how things were, it’s reassuring to know that these ways haven’t been around for long, and don’t have to be forever.
While we may not be able to return to how things were before ownership and competition were introduced, we can still lean into these general principles that say we can be altruistic, egalitarian, for really no reason at all except it’s just who we are.
If we as a society, or us as individuals, benefit from helping others and the planet, then we should do that. If it feels good, then we should do that. Of course while not forgetting the need to make sure our good intentions won’t do any unintended harm.
🌎There are many ways that we can help the planet and others. We can trade in unintentional material possessions for fewer, more intentional products. Ones that may even help the planet as opposed to harming it. We can give more, and take less. Love the planet, as opposed to dominating it.
I know I know, easier said than done.
There is always a way to give, and there is always a way to give up. We probably already know what works best for us. We know who we are, what we like, what we don’t like.
Trust in our ability to make the world a better, greener, and healthier place, mix it with some good old fashioned hard work and action...and we will do exactly that.💚