Giving of oneself without conditions (Altruism) is hopefully going to give you a slightly different take on altruism. One of the words or phrases that springs to mind is ‘selflessness’ and that is indeed a noble and worthy way of trying to explain it.
When we talk of selflessness we think of doing something without thought of ourselves. The consequences of our actions bear no relevance on our actual ‘doing’ of the action. That’s getting closer.
Over time, I think the word altruism has become diluted. I would like to add some concentrate back into it and maybe even redefine it so that it gives you a better understanding of how I view it and how my own definition guides me and all that I am trying to accomplish with everything to do with Twack.
Extreme Selflessness is not it.
The most grandiose act of selflessness would be what ? Giving away all of your worldly goods to those who need them and then going off into the woods to live in a tent and spend all day thinking about how your thoughts and words might be able to change the world for the better. Let’s think about that. No, let’s not.
Let me just say, before we get into this, that I have no issue whatsoever with anyone doing anything, if they think it will make a difference in the world or in someones life. No matter how big or small. I am not so sanctimonious in my thinking to say that your way of giving is any less worthwhile than mine. Far from it.
I am a firm believer that if we all do something, that is far better than doing nothing. Period.
That said, sitting in a forest 24/7, communing with nature, as idyllic as it sounds, isn’t going to cut it.
Here’s what we’re dealing with in its current form. As defined by the dictionary. Not verbatim but pretty much all dictionaries seem to have the same basic definition.
“The principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others, selflessness”
Well, I wasn’t off the mark by saying it was selflessness. Deeper explanation, for want of a less esoteric word, goes further by saying that
“altruism is the unselfish concern for other people and doing so simply out of a desire to help and not because you feel obligated to out of duty, loyalty or religious reasons.”
Interesting that religion is given a free mention when it comes to the act of altruism. Mmm, OK, We’ll leave that one alone for the purposes of this post. I have no opinion on that one way or another. If I did, it would detract from the meaning I want to convey.
What It’s Not.
I have touched on this when I was talking about ‘Paying it Forward’ but only lightly and in context to that particular article. If you’re interested you can read it by clicking on the link below.
===>CLICKE HERE TO READ TWACKS ARTICLE ON ‘PAYING IT FORWARD'<===
It’s not a favour. I’m probably going to dig myself into a hole from this point onward, hey ho, shovel ready, here we go. When someone asks you for a favour and you happily oblige, that’s not altruism. Even if it means you lose a day helping them or half of your paycheck to bail them out. Yes it’s a beautiful thing to be able to help a friend in need. Altruistic it is not.
Without getting into a lengthy debate, let’s just go with two reasons, remember, it’s not a debate. Save that for when you’ve read the whole post otherwise it will get taken of context.
First of all, you’ve been asked. Whatever the circumstances, you didn’t offer to help. Leave it, no debating. Secondly and you can take umbrage on this one till you’re blue in the face (Please don’t though, it really isn’t a good look) you’ll want something in return. “You owe me one” or “Don’t worry about it, one day I might need you to return the favour” or even “Remember when I…..”
You’ll say you won’t but deep down, or maybe not that deep, you’ll make a mental note that you did ‘so-and-so’ a good turn. A debt (strong word, I know) that one day you will call in.
Now, before you get your hackles up, if they’re not already, this is not a bad thing. You’re not a horrible person. You’re a good person, you’ve just done someone a good turn. Yay you. You and me both. We’ve all done it, that’s the way it is. I refer back to my earlier statement. Anything we do that helps someone is a good thing.
It did, however, come with a condition. It may have been unsaid and uneven unthought (not a real word) on a conscious level. The condition being that somewhere down the line you will remember your act of kindness and choose to go knocking on that door in your own time of need. (Just so you know, that’s still not a bad thing)
Without Condition Or Caveat
We’re nearly there and if you’re starting to feel as though you are being unjustly vilified, you’re not. If by the end of this you still haven’t ‘got it’ or have but don’t agree, that’s cool. No harm, no foul. Like I said, sitting in the forest doesn’t do it for me but if you’re into that, then fill your boots, it’s all good. I couldn’t write this stuff and then pass judgement. That just goes against the grain. I am merely trying to show you another side based on my own thoughts and feelings. Feel better ? Good. Let’s get on with it.
A Quick Refresher.
“Altruism is the unselfish concern for other people and doing so simply out of a desire to help and not because you feel obligated to out of duty, loyalty or religious reasons.”
So, we’re doing it out of a simple desire to help, yes? How does that make you feel ? Good, bad, indifferent ? None of the above ? The chances are it will make you feel good. You’ve done something, helped someone, you should feel good, shouldn’t you ? Maybe, but what if that’s what you wanted from this altruistic transaction ? Now you have gained. How different is that from doing a favour ?
You have done the deed and expected something in return. Or, maybe you didn’t expect anything in return but you felt good about yourself after you did it. Whether asked for or not, if you have come away with that feeling then you have benefited from the act.
Can you honestly say that if someone asked you how you felt afterwards you would say you felt nothing ? You were completely ambivalent ? If you can, then I am surprised you are still reading because you have it already. In the words of Professor Henry Higgins “By George she’s got it”
If not, then keep reading.
Finally, It All Makes Sense
So the last section let ‘the cat out of the bag’, so to speak. Not so quick, my friend. Remember at school when we had to do comprehension ? Read a chapter, close the book and then answer some questions. Not my favourite part of the lesson. Probably because the subject matter was normally boring. I hope you’ve not found this boring, if you have, keep it to yourself.
Is it possible for me to finish up with a definitive definition ? Am I splitting the infinitive there ? How many more rhetorical questions can I ask ?
We pretty much know what altruism is according to those that write the big books. We also know what it is not, even if we thought it was (and some may still think that) Then we just about summed it up, as to what it should be, or could be, or is according to me, or how I like to think of it.
If I had to give to use a metaphor or try to explain in a way that it ‘clicked’ for you, I would struggle. The criteria is all set out but the realisation that you achieved it will be harder to come by. I think you’ll just know it when you know it.
Sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed saying ‘Om’ is not, by defintion, meditation, nor does it follow on that when you do finally manage to meditate you are going to be instantly enlightened. These practices take time but you will ‘know’ when you have succeeded in either.
To help, let’s see if I can precis all of the above. I could have done that at the start but where’s the fun in that ?
“To give of yourself in the pursuit of helping another without thought for yourself. Self-gratification not being a prerequisite.
Not asking for or wanting anything in return and in doing so feeling nothing more than it was just the right thing to do.”
There, are we close ? I could try to do more in the ‘sum up’ but then I feel I might just be going round in circles. I think by now you get the gist. I also think that taking this whole altruism thing one step further will make a huge difference in other areas of our lives, in how we view ourselves and others and the world in which we live in.
It’s not an easy step to make but one that I think is worth it.
Yours thoughts, questions, admonishments and comments are always welcome.
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47 thoughts on “Giving Of Oneself Without Conditions (Altruism)”
Beautiful post, Twack!! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic!!
Hi Nathalie, thank you so much for taking the time to read the article and for leaving such lovely words, they are very much appreciated. I think altruism is so much more than a one dimensional definition and once you’ve mastered it then the world shines in a new and radiant light.
What a great article, as I was going through this article I was carried away and thought you were describing me, I always find myself kinda selfish, sorry to say so, but I have tried to change but it’s still in me, but having gone through your article, I have really learnt a lot from you, I really appreciate your efforts in creating such a wonderful content, I am sure to subscribe to your newsfeed to learn more about this and other related articles.
Hey there, I really appreciate you taking the time to read through my offering, much appreciated. Your candor is to be admired, I’m not sure we all can hold our hands up and admit how we are. Altruism is a learned process for many of us. The best thing though, is that it gets easier the more you do it. It becomes habit and therefore ‘non-thinking’ and then it’s just how we become all of the time.
All the best.
Giving of one’s time talent or resources is very satisfying and gives a sense of accomplishment. I like the way you stressed on what Altruism is not. It is so easy to assume it is when we do things for other people when asked or not.
A lot of time these days people do things for others in order to get recognised. Charity work by big companies is a PR exercise. Realising that it is more blessed to give than receive is an uncommon knowledge or revelation.
Hello there, thanks for taking the time to comment. You’ve made some really good points and you’re right, of course, it is so much better to give than receive.
I really enjoyed this post! I enjoyed how you really broke down what altruism REALLY is. You are so right! And to know its true altruism is to have not feelings about what you did after. Yes, this makes total sense. Doing it because it was the right thing to do.
Thank you for sharing!
Hello Anna, thank you so much for taking time out to read my post. I’ve had such a great response to this and it’s good to see that everyone ‘gets it’. So glad you enjoyed it.
Hi! Second comment as I posted the first one on your website. I really enjoyed how you went into great detail about the differences in helping happily when you have been asked and doing something because it was the right thing to do. I can’t say for certain if I have done anything altruistic….
thanks for this post and I hope got the other post comment.
Thanks Anna, two for the price of one, love that. I’ll check the other comment out after this one. I am a lucky one, for sure. I’ll be honest, altruism at the level I’ve described, is not an easy one to accomplish but it can be done, just needs practice.
Greetings. You have a very unique website. It took some time for me to fully understand the message here but as I continued to read the article the message became clearer to me. I wish you all the best with your blog and I must say that self development is an essential component of our existence.
Absolutely Larry, self developement is key for us all. Life just becomes better on so many levels.
Hey Twak I really enjoyed reading your article. I agree altruism is selflessness. Selflessness being to give without expecting anything in return, not for self gratification, not praising yourself nor making the person you give feel small or seek praise. You give and forget about the act. I am sure there’s more where this comes from, so I will be a frequent visitor.
I thank you for leaving such an awesome comment, greatly appreciated. ‘Give and forget about the act’ pretty much sums it up. Nice one indeed.
This is a great site. I would like to have a site as good as this. Can you give me info. on how you made this site? I have no experience with the topic but I will learn and get back with you. Great site. I think every great idea, every great invention, and every great moment came from nothing. You did it.
Hi Glen, thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for a lovely compliment. I’ve had the domain for a while but it wasn’t until I got onboard with Wealthy affiliate that I started to make proper of use of it. It’s still early days but I’m looking forward to the future.
Awesome post and everyone needs to read this. I am glad you wrote such a special post. This is something I am going to institute in my own life. Doing something for others and acting on our concern and care for them, is what it is all about. I will also be sharing these ideas with others. All the Best, Krista
Thanks Krista, so pleased that you enjoyed the article. The more we can do to promote this, the better. It should be a natural thing and not forced, just a part of our everyday lives. Thanks again.
Funny that this article should appear when only yesterday I was having some thoughts that could be along those lines. My daughters are grown and left home many years ago but I see so many instances of kids who live in groups in homes because they were taken from their families or abused or some other reasons. I am not willing to adopt any kids and have them live in my home permanently, but I was reading an article about the challenges these kids face and was thinking if I could volunteer to just find one or two who I could make feel loved, and special. Take them out sometimes, celebrate their birthday, have them for a weekend. Keep in touch to find out how they are coping. You asked ‘why’. I know my reason. If 2 children could live better because I helped them, then I would be so fulfilled and happy. Thanks for your article Twack. Good stuff.
Hi JJ, the fact that you are even thinking like this is a beautiful thing. I’m sure you will make it happen. The effects can be far reaching as well. The love you show them will carry on with them as they grow and who knows what effect that will have on those whom they meet in life. It’s a wonderful thought.
Oh what an interesting and insightful look at what altruism really is. I have always felt drawn to those who give of themselves without asking for anything in return. I feel this is a quality that we as a person can learn from others. For myself, I would really like to work on bringing this quality out in myself. So very important to teach this to our children as well. Do you think altruism is hereditary? Loved your article!
Hello Michelle, thanking you greatly for reading and commmenting on my post, huge appreciation. I would say that altruistic tendencies are both learned and hereditary. If we choose to follow others examples then we have the capability to learn. For some, it may come naturally and who’s to say where that comes from. In the short time I knew my own mother and from what I’ve heard from those who knew her, for longer than I did, I would say that it is hereditary. We may all be predisposed to do it, just need to be reminded that we can.
I like the definition you provided for “altruism”. It kind of makes sense and I think there may have only been two times that I can think of in my own life where I just did something because it was the right thing to do and I wasn’t looking for any reward or benefit from the deed. There may have been more but these two stick out the most.
I know it’s not enough and we should always be looking for ways to help out our fellow man never expecting anything in return.
This is not to get “Religious” or anything but even the golden rule, (which comes from scripture), states that we should do unto others as we would have them do to us, not expecting anything in return. I have had this happen to me. It’s very humbling. Perhaps that’s what motivated me.
WE are all humans and we should treat others equally and not think of ourselves as better than someone else.
Oh, we may have a better paying job or live in a more expensive house but really… shouldn’t we share our abundance with those with less? Just help where we can, who we can not expecting anything in return? Just because? We all have times when we can do this and it should come out of the heart and, as you say, our caring for our fellow humans.
These days it seems humans have gotten more selfish instead, not all but many.
You’ve given us plenty to think about here. The world needs this.
Hi Wayne, first let me say thank you for leaving such a wonderful comment and for taking the time to read through my post. I admire your candor and totally agree with all of your sentiments. I believe if we all did take the time to think of how we could help others, there would be a shift in how the world conducts itself.
I am working on it. We have to start small and build up, I am positive that we can make a difference on a global scale. I wrote an article that outlines the beginnings of what I hope will become something that will do just as you ask. Twack’s Foundation for the Future lays out my initial ideas. I think we can make a real change.
To start with, being selfless does not require you to improve others life and then leave your life to decay in suffering. With no doubt, it’s a very good thing to possess the attribute of being altruistic, it is what binds the whole world together as one, I bring my one to add to yours will always make you have to also share to other people, taking actions that favour other people even when I slightly does not for you, considering the populace rather than your own self is what I call being selfless. Thanks for sharing this interesting article.
Yes, you’re absolutely right. We cannot solve the worlds problems by becoming part of the problem or by putting ourselves in a position of lack, so that we are unable to help. That said, the balance of sacrifice is always going to be weighted in favour of those who ‘have’ as opposed to those who ‘have not’. Foregoing the cost of a morning coffee and using that money to go towards a worthy cause might have an impact we are not aware of. Or if you wanted to see the good you could do, just buy the coffee and hand it to someone who might appreciate it more than you could imagine. Truly greatful for your time and comment.
Thanks so much for spelling out the true meaning of Altruism and also for explaining what it is not. Many people makes this mistake about being selfless, it’s very thoughtful of you to share this. We live in a world where everyone faces his or her own business, we only have few people with this kind of spirit in them, most of us are selfish to the extent that we get blind to the outer world. I’ll share this to some other platforms, so that they’ll learn from it.
You have brightened my day with your comment, thank you. Spreading the word is just part of what we can do, a big part though. It is very easy to get caught up in ‘life’ and forget that we could actually make huge differences in others lives. Sometimes all we need is a reminder. Thank you again.
This was a very interesting read. So, now I’m wondering if I have helped others out of altruism or not, because everytime I did I felt great about myself, although I never did it with the intention of feeling good. I did it because I simply couldn’t turn away. I just had to help.
Asking for a favor is indeed different. You are asked to help and you may offer your time out of the goodness of your heart or with little enthusiasm, it is not altruism. Most favors expect something in return.
This post really made me think. Excellent read!
Thank you Christine for commenting. If this post gave you ‘pause for thought’ then I am doubly happy. I think the key in your own acts of kindness is in your intent. You looked for no gain or reward, the fact that you felt good afterwards is natural and should not be ignored. The more we do things like this, the more it becomes part of the ‘norm’ and therein lies the difference, possibly. Thank you also, for making me think.
Well said. This was a great post and an important topic that’s not always easy to approach in some ways. Giving of oneself without conditions is a frame of mind that goes back thousands of years and with all kinds of practitioners from religious followers to just regular people. I agree with you that altruism isn’t about giving of yourself totally and completely to the point of being homeless and in poverty but is a frame of mind that everyone from all walks of life can adhere to. Great topic.
Riverdogg, awesome name by the way, thank you for such a well put comment. Mindset is so important. As I mentioned in one of the previous comments, giving beyond ourselves isn’t what it’s about if it leaves us in a position where we ourselves become less able to help. We can however make what would be small sacrifices that can prove to be of huge benefit to others. If we can do this even little and often, great changes can happen. Really enjoyed your comment, thank you again.
Many of us have a desired to do something good. We want to help someone else. However, how we help and what reasons motivate us to help is a significant factor in determining altruism. Our natural self would always want some “security,” and this come in the form of some “expectations” or “future credit” that you can draw on some day. This, as you mentioned is not selflessness. I look at it as giving something to help a fellow human with absolutely no expectations of anything in return. I am here and I do it, whoever benefits is great. Even better the giver and receiver is unknown to each other. Thanks for enlightening us on it or I would usually not think of it.
Thank you Stanley for such a thoughtful and composed reply. I think you’ve really touched on an excellent point.
“Even better the giver and receiver is unknown to each other.” This almost takes it to another level and brings into play the gratification element that can only exist in the givers mind should they choose to ‘feel’ good about themselves. That then becomes a choice from within, not an easy one to call.
Very appreciative of you time and comment. Thank you.
Hello. Awesome article. I really love how you described altruism in such an honest way. For me, the way you shared this information with us is the definition to – altruism.
Altruism can be the way you get meaning into your life, to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.
Thank’s a lot and keep going.
Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to leave a comment, always appreciated. I think you’ve done a great job of describing altrusim also, nice one.
I had no idea what altruism meant. Now that I understand it, I might -somehow- consider myself one. I always give when people ask no matter the concequences, but let me tell you, that has got me in a lot of trouble (financially and emotionally). Some might take something from you, dissapear and then use said thing against you. It’s lovely being someone who’s compassionate and who cares about others, but you always need to establish some boundaries with yourself.
You speak the truth for sure. There will always be times when we are disappointed by others and how they treat us. Sometimes we know why and sometimes not. Creating boundaries for ourselves is important as it allows us to discern how we interact with others. It also enables us to give where we know it is needed.
I really enjoyed reading your article about giving without conditions. Unfortunately it is not something we see often enough in the modern day and age. I believe that giving without conditions does gain something back – to give makes us feel happy and it helps to balance our lives. Thanks again for a great read, Andrew
You’re very welcome Andrew and thank you for stopping by. Balance in our lives is important. Hopefully the more we give the more others will see our example and follow it.
This article came into play at the perfect time today; as I was riding the train to my full time job. It was the perfect start to my day, creating a brighter and more positive aspect to my life today. I always say I want to make a difference and leave my foot print on this Earth. I think this is one of the best ways to do that. I look forward to following your journey.
Hello Megan, thank you for reading this post and I’m so happy it added to your day in a positive way. Sometimes the very small things we do can have a profound impact on anothers life and thus help leave many footprints, not just our own.
Megan, at a time when people of the Earth seem so focussed on reducing their footprint from the planet (albeit carbon based), you have come up with a wonderful use of leaving a bigger footprint for ALL the right reasons.
Kudos to you and it’s nice to often ponder the fact that although we are constantly told that people are becoming more selfish, less caring, disconnected… Sometimes we only have to look at those we meet with a fresh perspective and ask what we truly believe in our heart 🙂
Thank you, I just got schooled by learning something new. HAHA! Great job. I really enjoyed reading your post and found it very fresh. I loved how you explain altruism and being selfless.
We can all do more to help out in the world by being selfless. Acts of kindness without an alterior motive with no strings doesn’t seem to happen that much these days. I am sure this post is really going to make people think.
Thank you Coralie for your kind words. You’re right, of course, we can all do more. Hopefully anyone who reads this will take action and start thinking about how they can do something positve for others without wanting anything in return. If we all did that then the world couldn’t help but be a better place.
There is a strange little quirk, maybe calling it a ‘twist of fate’ may be more apt, when it comes to altruistic deeds, that *almost* removes the altruism, post-deed.
When you give more, it seems as though you get more in return.
When you love more (unconditional for this example of course) you are in turn loved more.
When you take a more benevolent view of the fellow travelers around you, you just feel better.
My point, even if you do these acts without expectation, it seems that the universe kinda evens the score passively somewhere down the line, (karma, fate?) Once you know this, does the altruism disappear???
Either way at it’s most simple, sending out positive vibes to the ether is never a bad idea, right?
I should go and lie down in a darkened room for a while now as I made my own head hurt.
It’s good to have a reason to ponder the existential matters once in a while, Thanks Twack 🙂
Thank you Steven, my apologies for not responding sooner. Your comment seemed to have slipped through the net. If only more could live their lives in the manner you set out. I am definitely one for putting out those ‘positive vibes’. Certainly on some occasions it is with intent but other times when it concerns an act of kindness, I still won’t be expecting the universe to reward me. Yes, when it does so, it’s a bonus that cannot be denied, but it is unexpected. That’s just the way I like to play the game.