Altruism is the wish that others are happy. Similar words include selflessness, humanity or consideration for others.
Some may question whether there is really anyone who is truly altruistic and selfless. Do we do good things because we have empathy for others and a kind nature, or do we do them to feel good about ourselves?
A desire for a connection to others is part of being human, however some people are naturally more empathetic and considerate in their behaviour towards others. They see someone in need and their gut tells them they have to offer a kind word or action. It’s just the ‘right’ thing to do…
Research suggests that interventions such as mindfulness meditation, the active practice of gratitude and acts of kindness can develop our ability to be more altruistic or selfless in our behaviour and interactions with other people. Small, deliberate changes in our thoughts and actions can lead to lasting positive habits.
This TedGlobal Talk by Matthieu Ricard, a happiness researcher and a Buddhist monk, highlights what it means to be altruistic and how altruism can impact ourselves, others and the wider environment.
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