Altruism or selflessness
is the principle or practice of helping others without selfishness. It
is the opposite of selfishness and the word was coined by the French
philosopher Auguste Comte in French, as altruism. It is a positive human virtue
found in many cultures. It is a core aspect of various religious traditions and
secular worldviews. This is an act of performing an action for the benefit of
other individual without expecting any reward or compensation such as pleasure
and quality of life, time, probability of survival etc. Altruism does not
consider relationships; it is different from feelings of loyalty as it is
predicated upon social relationships.
Altruistic people focus on
others and have generous tendencies; they are always ready to share, help or
sacrifice for other’s well-being in return of intrinsic reward in the form of
personal gratification. These kinds of people are happy when others
flourish, unhappy when others are in misery. Most societies acknowledge the
importance of altruism within the family and communities. We are motivated to
cooperate rather than to conflict, to promote harmony within family. Altruism has
its own reward. Positive relationships with others have always been a more
natural basis for self-esteem than either materialistic things or illusions
about money or power over others.
Now question is why to
• Altruism makes us happy: People feel happier when
they do something good for others. They have sense of pleasure, social
connection, and trust.
• Altruism is good for our health: People who voluntarily help
others tend to experience fewer aches and pains, have better overall physical
health and hardly suffer from depression.
• Altruism promotes social connections: When we do something
good for others, they feel closer to us, and we also feel closer to them. This
way it “fosters a sense of interdependence and collaboration in our social
• Altruism is contagious: When we sacrifice for other, we don’t
only help that particular person but also spur a ripple effect of generosity. Each
person in a network can influence numbers of people, some of whom he or she
does not know at all.
In this modern economic
age, people are always busy in obtaining more and more themselves but altruism
teaches us to give it to others. Sometimes even a small help for a person can
become a turning point for another person. It is also related to volunteerism.
All the steps to solve for social problems cannot be taken only by the
government. The degree of altruism varies from society to society. It is one of
the finest traits of human virtue which needs to be nourished from childhood.
Altruistic people even risk their lives to save others. Altruism is a virtue
which cannot be taught overnight but it is a way of life which is the reverse
Altruism is a value that
must be nurtured for greater human happiness, harmony and brotherhood.