True Examples of Altruism

By Matthieu Ricard on April 23, 2011

We would be very happy to receive personal accounts, anecdotes, or stories concerning actions that clearly point to manifestations of genuine altruism.

These could be examples that you witnessed or heard about, or facts that belong to our time or to a distant past: heroic acts or expressions of kinship and altruistic concern in daily life, behavior inspired by unselfish kindness or a sense of solidarity.

Altruism can be defined as ‟a mental state that seeks to accomplish the welfare of others.” Altruism can be considered genuine if achieving the good of others accounts for the primary motivation and the ultimate goal governing a behavior. Altruism can define a momentary mental state as well as correspond to an enduring state of mind, a way of being.

A truly altruistic deed must not be motivated by the desire to gain some personal benefit, either in the short or long term, or by the wish to be praised or to receive a token of gratitude, or by the fear of being criticized should we not come to the help of others. An action is not considered altruistic if the sole aim of our behavior is to ease the personal distress that we feel when faced with the suffering of another.

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