French philosopher Auguste Comte coined the word Altuisme in 1851.
It entered the English language later as: Altruism.
Many questions arise around this word in recovery and therapy.
Perhaps the most common is “do we help others to help them or do we help others because it makes us feel better?”
In other words, is it a selfish or selfless concept? As we have already discovered a heavy issue for any person in recovery, is selfishness. A bridge between selfishness and selflessness is the ACT of doing something for someone else because it makes us feel better?
I recently heard someone say that LOVE is an action word, not a feeling word.
So if we love our fellows, not acting in loving ways, would merely be impotent.
I see a truism in altruistic behavior in the ability to empathize with another person.
Note a strong difference between sympathy and empathy.
An altruistic person finds joy in the well being of others and is deeply saddened when others suffer. Some psychological models believe that certain needs of our own have to be met before we can truly be altruistic.
Maslows “hierarchy of needs” is one such theory.
I do not believe that this is true.
It is not apparent to me that a person can be spiritual without being altruistic. Is not the very ACT of helping another suffering alcoholic/addict spiritual in nature; so if we waited for ourselves to be self actualized before helping others,
we would all be in a very long queue.
I do believe that we all have altruism in us.
Over the years, I have come to see altruism in many different forms. It is an attitude within each individual that has to be nurtured. It grows over time. The argument about whether or not altruism is selfish or selfless is pointless. There is not a switch inside a person that jumps from being selfish to selfless.
Again, it is a way of being. I have seen unbelievable acts of selflessness of one person helping another with no reward.
I have seen others help others with great rewards.
Is it not the act itself that is important?