Analyze your motives: To achieve true altruism, Matthieu Ricard says, we must demolish the part of our ego that fuels a sense of pride for acting generously. Ask yourself, Would I be just as happy if someone else performed this act of kindness? "For a true altruist, it's the result that counts, not the personal satisfaction of having helped," he writes.
Ditch the golden rule: Craig Dowden, Ph.D., a leadership and organizational excellence coach, says givers often only consider their own wants and needs when helping others. "Ditch the golden rule," he says. True enough, by the second week, nearly all of my kind acts were money related. And as a 20-something with student loans and this new thing called health insurance premiums, money stays top of mind.
Be consistent: Developing a selfless attitude doesn't happen overnight. At first, we fall back into bad habits that feel like an "undoing" of the kind act itself. I spent 30 minutes editing a friend's résumé who was unhappy in her current career.
Then I spent the next 30 minutes complaining about a family member who momentarily annoyed me. "If we alternate between selfless and harmful behaviors, we ought to expect to get a sharply contrasting blend of joys and suffering," Ricard writes. To sustain joy through giving, it needs to be consistent action that moves us toward a consistent state of selflessness.
The writer is the integrated content editor for
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