Food4Thought: The Hidden Selfishness In Our ‘Selfless’ Acts

Read this article with an open mind. Some concepts may confuse you because you might have never thought of them i this specific way before. Do your best to get that bird’s eye view.

Christmas time as everyone knows is a time to give. It is a time when people are expected to be selfless and help for the sake of being a good person. During the Xmas period there is a vast increase in charitable people who help the less unfortunate. According to studies, there is infact a 78% increase in the amount of money given to charitable organisations during the Christmas Period.

But are these actions truly kind, humble, and selfless. Is the act of helping and giving done out of the kindness and gratitude of the heart? Or is there a deeper, more controversial purpose to the reason why people give freely?

Is there a selfish nature in our selfless acts?

Selflessness And Guilt

Lets start with this image:

Now what do you see in this image? Physically we see a person in need of help and another person providing that aid by giving a helping hand. According to on lookers this  would be  perceived as a selfless act? After all he is putting his own welfare in danger just to aid the other climber. And the meaning of being selfless: “to be concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own”. Therefore his actions correlate.

However lets take a step back, zoom out of focus and see the whole situation holistically.

Lets provide a different perspective.

What if this good Samaritan decided not to help, and in doing so the climber struggling for help falls from the mountain and is met with certain death. What impact would that have on this person as an individual?

Imagine knowing you could have helped someone but you didn’t. Imagine someone losing their life as a result. What emotions would circulate through your body? Would you be able to carry that burden with you for the rest of your life. The guilt would infest your brain, and spread through your mind, eating up your conscience along the way.

Now you see the other side of this picture. The deeper context. What if this good Samaritan was only helping in order to prevent and eradicate any form of discomfort or guilt that would be attached to his conscience if he left the climber to fall and die.

If you are thinking about your self is it still a selfless act? It can’t be selfless if you have selfish intentions. Right?

And there is still more to the story! Lets look at it from another different view. What if aid is only given in order to gain respect and praise from others. What if you only help to receive a feeling of self satisfaction? Deeply, you don’t care about the welfare of other, you really care about how good you are going to feel inside for helping that person in the first place. That feeling of accomplishment. You feel like a hero.

Hopefully your mindset is beginning to broaden a little. However, you might not go rock climbing anytime soon so lets link the ideas mentioned above in a more common example.

Looking at society:

Everyday in our lives  we come across people less fortunate than us. Deprived of necessities, and hanging off their cliffs of their own. Hunger, isolation and the lack of a shelter. We see these unfortunate people all the time, from the busy streets of our town centres, to the back alleys of city subways. They all need that helping hand. They are all clinging onto that cliff. Fighting for their lives.

These people also need to be picked up, however they might not need a physical hand,  but a hand of aid mostly in the form of money or food. Some, like the man at the start of this article reach out that hand and help. But are the intentions as selfless as the act itself?

Do you give money to beggars in order for them to leave you alone? Or is it out of the kindness of your heart? Even so,  when you do decide to give, is based off the focus of providing to save lives, or are you really trying to prevent the guilt stricken battle between your morals and your conscience if you decide not to help. If you decide to let them fall, knowing you could have been a saviour.

Or yet again are you giving just to enjoy that praise and self- satisfaction that comes internally and externally. We publicise our kindness to the whole world showing them how caring we are to others. But what are our true intention?

Next time you give money to the poor, and you begin to gain that pleasant feeling. Ask your self.

“Why did I do that? Was I more focused on the benefits I would gain? Am I really being selfless if my intentions were subliminally selfish?

Now you see how simple things can turned on their heads.

“Give and You Will Recieve”:

Sometimes it’s not only a moral benefit that is seen when we give to others.

We have all heard of the saying “Give and you will receive back in 10 folds”. This idea is sometimes pledged through religion.

Believe it or not this strategy actually works, and many businesses and celebrities partake in the give before you receive method to boost sales.The thought of giving to the less fortunate has now become some sort of investment, that provides a larger return to individuals.

Think about. Haven’t you realized that many celebrities tend to publicize their ‘selfless acts’: From Young Thug giving free money in his song “With that”, to Lil Durk buying all the children in his hood toys for xmas. Even Akon providing electricity for millions for Africans. Its all publicised.

So are these acts genuinely selfless? Or are they strategically planned for the benefit that will be gained in sales?

To understand how this works, lets zoom out again , and get the birds eye view of the situation. See the whole picture.

In return for these “selfless acts” celebrities will receive praise and adoration from many people. Their fan base will increase, and their current fans will become more loyal. They will become even more popular, and talked about. This means new content such as an album or song being released, would receive an increase in sales due to the increase in fan base and loyalty of fans. They will sell out more shows , and make even more money.

Now you see how the concept works. Give and you will receive back in 10 folds.

Now the question being proposed is if these plans were the starting intentions was the act really selfless. Can you perform a selfless act with selfish intentions? On the outside we smile but in the back off our mind we know our true motives.

Reversal:

But maybe this subliminal selfishness is transcribed in our DNA. Think about. It does make sense.

Our time on this earth is limited. It isn’t endless. Therefore why would we partake in actions that do not benefit us in anyway at all? Whether it be an emotional benefit through the feeling of self satisfaction, a physical benefit such as an increase in sales or even a spiritual benefit like getting to heaven or paradise . One way or another everything we do in life holds some sort of benefit which directed to our well being.

This doesn’t mean we do not care toward others. It just means we inertly have selfish intentions disguised and submerged in our selfless actions.

Hope your brain is still there, and have a wonderful Christmas(if you celebrate it) and a happy new year.

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Samuel Okusaga
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Samuel Okusaga

CEO & Founder at Worth of Mouth
I am the founder and current C.E.O of Worth of Mouth. Thanks for reading/watching our content !
I enjoy reading, and experiencing new things. If you would like to get in touch
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Samuel Okusaga
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