I am a kind and generous person. I am not, however, altruistic in any way.
“Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil.” – Lazarus Long, Time Enough For Love
Another term for altruism is selflessness, which is something you and I can never be. No matter where you go, there you are. You are in everything you do.
When I help others, it’s for purely selfish reasons. I prefer to live in a world where people help out others when they are able to do so. We’re all in this together. We rise and fall together. United we stand, divided we fall. And so forth.
I’m also paying it forward a bit. I know that I didn’t get where I am purely on my own steam. I didn’t “build it”. And it’s not like I’m being generous so I get something from that specific person in return. It’s more like a karmic savings account, so to speak. The spiritual notion of like attracts like.
When presented with something I’d rather not do, I find that it is far less selfish to just say no. What’s so benevolent about doing something out of a concern for how you look? If my immediate reaction to something isn’t, “Yes” or “Sure” then my next thought is “What’s in it for me if I do this?” and “Do I really want to do this?” If I can’t find something in it for me, even a small feeling of satisfaction, then I’m not the one who is meant to do that.
This has taken me a long time to get. I spent years begrudgingly performing tasks out of some fear of looking like a jerk or even a misguided sense that I had to be a “good” person. Once you stop giving any fucks, it’s hard to make yourself do things that you really don’t want to any longer.
If I get several invitations or requests at the same time, I am only one person and I’m going to do the one I want to do. If I have already committed to something and another, better something comes along, I rarely change my plans. I feel that once I commit to something, that’s what I have to do because I said I would do it.
Best recent example is my friends asked me to babysit their child on the Saturday night before Halloween. I had no plans so I said yes. As the day approached, I received several party invitations. I showed up to babysit as planned. That how I dooz it.
What was in it for me? I keep my promises for me. The other person just benefits from it. It actually makes life a whole lot easier. If I do what I said I would do when I said I would do it, or own up to it when that no longer becomes possible, then I have a lot less mess to clean up later. Reminds me of something I once heard that went like, it’s better to tell the truth because you don’t have to remember anything. The truth is just there in your head and you simply recall it. You’ve got to remember your lies in order to not get caught in them.
I am a kind and generous person because I want to be. Not because the world expects it or demands it of me. And it’s all about me, after all.