Understanding Altruism and How the Mind Encourages Us to Practice It

Understanding Altruism and How the Mind Encourages Us to Practice It


Altruism is a noble feeling. The selfless person gives himself to others without expecting anything in return. She naturally helps those around her, without needing incentives or rewards and does not complain about the service provided. This characteristic is admired by diverse cultures and religious beliefs.

Although it seems to be an inherent virtue of an individual, anyone can develop it. Just create the habit of helping others through small actions.

The image that people tend to have of being altruistic is blatant. It involves traveling to distant lands ravaged by poverty, disease, and natural disasters, as well as giving up material possessions and a comfortable lifestyle.

While such personalities did exist, you don’t need to copy their life journey. It is possible to start simply, looking back at those who need it in your neighborhood or city. Helping co-workers, friends, and relatives in times of need is a good start.

What is Altruism?

Altruism, as said, is acting on behalf of another person, without thinking about how we will benefit or be rewarded for such actions.

This concept was determined by the French philosopher Auguste Comte in 1830. He concluded that to be altruistic it is not necessary to have a relationship with the divine or religion. This attribute can be acquired and developed or arise spontaneously.

A truly selfless person carries this trait with him at all times. Isolated acts, like donating to a charity or volunteering occasionally with an organization, are great for helping those in need and inspiring others. However, it does not mean that someone is altruistic just because they have done them once or twice.

In all situations, however insignificant they may seem, benevolence is worked on. The altruistic person has an equally altruistic behavior and way of thinking, considering the needs of the environment before thinking about his own.

In addition, he manages to lead a balanced life even dedicating his time to the other.

Characteristic of an Altruistic Person

The Selfless Person:

  • Easily connects with others;
  • Is humble and rarely wants to be recognized for his actions;
  • It is a source of inspiration for others;
  • Act according to your intuition and the desires of your heart;
  • Measures the difficulties of the actions that will be performed to prepare and not leave anyone in the lurch;
  • Respect others as you respect yourself;
  • Does not offer blatant explanations for its behavior. A simple “I did it because I wanted to” is enough for them;
  • Has sincere relationships, even when they are superficial;
  • Faces difficulties without lowering his head;
  • Supports the people you love (and those you don’t) in your life;
  • Forgives disagreements easily;
  • Is always in a good mood;
  • Manages negative emotions with mastery;
  • She knows her limits and is not willing to cross them, as she knows that it is necessary to take care of herself to help as many people as possible; and
  • Tends to be idealistic.
  • A characteristic that is worth highlighting is the concern with the impact on the world.

How Does the Mind Encourage Us to Practice Altruism?

The selfless person understands that all his actions have consequences and takes responsibility for them. Therefore, he thinks a lot before speaking or acting so as not to be misunderstood or hurt someone. He also takes care of the environment by being aware of the impact caused by human beings on nature.

In this way, it helps to build a more harmonious world for everyone, including those who are not very fond of it.

What Does the Mind Have to Do With It?

Have you ever stopped to think about how you behave when you’re good with yourself?

The tendency is to become more willing, cheerful, and resolute as if all your doubts have suddenly left your mind. In this state of mind of serenity, good ideas come to you naturally and emotional discomforts stop shaking you. In this way, it is easier to find the strength to be useful to others.

On the other hand, when you’re feeling down, you tend to be low-spirited, moody, and shy away from social interactions and busy commitments.

Any task can steal your energy and leave you at the mercy of bad thoughts and emotions. The idea of ​​engaging in altruistic acts does not even cross your mind or can be dismissed with bitterness.

In other words, to help other people, we first need to take care of ourselves. It may seem like a rather selfish concept. Several philosophers and scholars of antiquity set out to debate the relationship between altruism and selfishness.

How can an action towards others be considered genuinely altruistic when the benefactor also achieves happiness by performing it?

For Aristotle, for example, the altruistic person should not feel gratification for making others happy. But, in practice, it is impossible not to rejoice when we are faced with the happiness of others, especially when we are emotionally connected with the person or situation.

A healthy mind contributes to the practice of altruism. Good humor and well-being are natural stimulants of charitable acts and conduct, which aim to gradually transform the world we live in into a more pleasant and inspiring place.

You may not see the results of your actions today or for years to come, but they will show. When we dedicate ourselves to helping other individuals, we always touch someone and our example is passed on from person to person. As popular wisdom says, “kindness begets kindness”.

How to Be More Altruistic?

To incorporate altruism into your life, you can start slowly (equally valid tip for your life goals and personal projects!).

As your brain assimilates the good feelings of leading a more generous and caring life, you will act naturally, without having to think first.

1. Practice Self-care

Self-care is, as usual, the first step. Before taking care of others, take care of yourself. Pay attention, above all, to the quality of your mood. It is an important gauge of well-being and influences emotions and thoughts directly.

2. Need to Yourself Better

Rest when the body and mind ask, incorporate pleasurable activities into your routine, travel and discover new territories, always be around loving and sincere people, and practice physical exercises. In this way, you will have more patience, disposition, and joy in everyday life.

3. Volunteer

To encourage the spirit of altruism in your life, look for volunteer opportunities in your city. Find local NGOs and find out which ones need help.

Local events also often need volunteers and are very welcoming. If you can’t find any opportunities that match your skills or schedule, you can go online searching.

4. Support a Charity

Choose a cause you’d like to help and contribute any way you want. It can be through donations of materials, food, or cash as well.

The ideal is to establish a commitment with this institution for a determined period.

Some ideas for you to be inspired by are: preserving the environment, caring for children and adolescents at risk, protecting animals, and helping patients with serious pathologies.

5. Be the Shoulder Friend of Whoever Needs It

Be there for your friends, colleagues, and even acquaintances. If you run into requests for food or medicine donations on apps, on TV, or in person, help.

How Our Mind Encourages Us to Practice Altruism

Listen to the outbursts of those who need to get rid of feeling trapped in their chests without making judgments. The most important thing is not to expect anything in return.

Listen to the outbursts of those who need to get rid of feeling trapped in their chests without making judgments. The most important thing is not to expect anything in return.

Do it for the simple pleasure of helping someone in need.

  • Filter Your Emotions

Selfless people are great at emotional intelligence. They know how to filter what is theirs and what is the others. This is an important lesson.

For you not to overload yourself with other people’s pain, you need to keep a little emotional distance. Don’t take home problems or brood over other people’s painful stories. The time to do this is when you have your hands dirty.

  • Deepen Self-knowledge

A self-knowledge is an indispensable tool for those who seek to change behaviors. If you want to bring a little more love for others into your life, expand the knowledge you have about yourself.

The new insights will make it possible to find positive attributes and beliefs, as well as emotional barriers that prevent you from changing your behavior.

Therapy is one of the most appropriate places for you to start your inner quest. Self-knowledge is one of the many pillars of psychology and an indispensable element for the health of the mind. After all, you need to help yourself to help others.

The Author

Oladotun Olayemi

Dotun is a content enthusiast who specializes in first-in-class content, including finance, travel, crypto, blockchain, market, and business to educate and inform readers.