Mortimer Adler once said “We are selfish when we are exclusively or predominantly concerned with the good for ourselves. We are altruistic when we are exclusively or predominantly concerned with the good of others.“
Have you ever wondered about Mother Teresa and her choice of lifestyle? What made her live a selfless life? What made her go into the poorest of regions and serve even though she had suffered through a bout of malaria?
There are people in this world that live the same kind of altruistic life. They live to help others, putting their own mental and physical well-being aside, without ever needing any kind of repayment. Is it possible that all of us could live that way? I do not mean go work with lepers, as Mother Teresa did. I am talking about a life lived where one helps others just because it is the right thing to do.
We have probably all known the type of person who, no matter how small the favor they grant you, they expect a repayment, and it’s usually a repayment that exceeds the favor they did for you. Why is it some people can not be altruistic by nature and others can? Can we teach ourselves to be more selfless? Do we have it in our nature to be able to change to this degree?
Maybe, instead, it can start in future generations through parents instilling it in children from a very young age. Children are generally very altruistic because they like helping. It’s when they get older they become involved with selfish role models or succumb to peer pressure to conform, that they lose this altruistic instinct.
I think if you have gone through life without ever giving altruism a chance, that would be sad. I would love to be remembered as someone concerned with others more than myself. I am not there totally, but wouldn’t it be great if everyone practiced this? I, for one will try to remember the lessons we have learned from people who have lived a totally selfless life.