Altruism

We live in a world where altruism must become the driving force of humanity to both relieve the suffering of others and ensure our continued survival as a species. 

The Buddhist monk Mathieu Ricard gives an insightful and entertaining introduction to altruism on the interpersonal and global scale in this recent TED Talk

The take away points are: 

  • Altruism is the wish that others may be happy and find the cause of happiness. 
  • Climate change has brought the earth to a precipice. Learning to think and behave in a way that embraces our shared humanity and desire to survive is the fundamental answer to this crisis. 
  • Evolutionary scientists (biologists, anthropologists, psychologists etc.) believe that humans are not purely selfish animals. Studies show that our species has a strong tendency towards cooperation and altruism. 
  • Can we learn to become more altruistic? Yes, we can, and it can happen on two different levels: the individual and society. 
  • On the individual level, neuroscience studies show that brain structure changes when people practice compassion and mindfulness meditation—after just week eight weeks. On the societal level, we can encourage altruism by changing culture. Specifically, this means: 
  1. Enhancing cooperation
  2. Local commitment, global responsibility.  
  3. Caring economics
  4. Sustainable harmony 

If you want deeper meaning in your life, opening your mind to altruism might be the mind-altering path you seek.