How to let altruism be your guide
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.
There has long been an assumption in psychology, economics and evolution that man is essentially selfish. But during the last 30 years, new scientific insights have shown that genuine altruism does exist and can be extended beyond our kin to our fellow human beings and other species.
Altruism is a benevolent state of mind. To be altruistic is to be concerned about the fate of all those around us and to wish them well. This should be done together with the determination to act for their benefit. Valuing others is the main state of mind that leads to altruism.
We devote hours upon hours to developing skills to excel at tasks that are important to us – from sports and music to public speaking and project management. Renowned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard believes we similarly should cultivate our ability to care and show compassion – not only in our personal lives, but professionally, too. This can help us transform the environmental movement and society at large, ultimately making the world a better place.