Thursday, June 24, 2010

Doing something nice for yourself

Someone left a comment on my article on Rest, asking me to elaborate on Kindness. Since I think it's an important topic, I thought I would dedicate a whole post to it.

let's hear more about this Kindness thing
When I was younger, I used to think about kindness all the time and wonder if I was doing it right. All of my philosophical musings have brought me to this startling understanding:

Kindness is just putting aside your own needs to try and help someone else.


Is Altruism ever genuine?
Some people have become champions of kindness because it's become hip to be kind. It becomes a source of identity for them. They start criticizing others who don't show the same level of kindness that their group (activists, hippies, Buddhists) do. That's the other meaning of "doing something nice for yourself": the kindness is really for your own benefit.

Not everyone does this and there are of course genuine activists and hippies and Buddhists. But there are lots of people who still act kindly for an ulterior motive. That really negates the spirit of kindness. If you identify with a group that distinguishes itself by its liberal politics and philanthropy, then check to ensure that you're not using kindness to feed your group identity or for self-promotion. Just use kindness to help whomever you run into: the sick, the needy, and especially the jerks. They need it the most.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well Said! I would propose that doing kind acts with ulterior motives of feeling better about oneself or promotion is still better than the alternative, but I agree with you on the true essence of kindness and its nature of putting one’s own needs out of the equation and focusing on those of someone else. Just because. That’s it. K.

Edahn said...

I would agree with that. In the long run the right intention will probably develop naturally, but if you're a real spiritual playa, you can nip it in the bud. :)

Anonymous said...

is it me, or did that guy's package shrink as he was self-loving?

Edahn said...

I know, it's bizarre. I would have expected the opposite too.

Anonymous said...

I agree re playa :o) K.