What is Good
Altruism in the Philosophical Landscape
Altruism is a concept that has captured the imagination of philosophers for centuries, its etymology rooted in the Latin word “alter” which translates to “other.” It speaks to the very essence of human nature and the capacity for selflessness that lies within us all. Throughout the annals of time, great minds have explored and debated the meaning of altruism and its role in shaping the moral fabric of society. It has been celebrated as a source of strength and virtue, an expression of our innate sympathy and compassion, and a means of maximizing happiness and reducing suffering. In this chapter, we will delve into the philosophical perspectives of some of history’s most prominent thinkers and discover the ways in which altruism has been viewed, celebrated, and challenged throughout the ages.
Aristotle, the great philosopher of ancient Greece, believed that altruism was the foundation of true friendship. He argued that in order to be a true friend to someone, one must be willing to act in their best interest, even if it means sacrificing one’s own interests. This selflessness, Aristotle believed, was the essence of virtue and the key to building lasting and meaningful relationships.
Immanuel Kant, one of the most influential philosophers of modern times, saw altruism as a duty that we owe to others. He believed that moral actions were those that were performed out of respect for the moral law, and that we have a duty to treat others as ends in themselves, rather than merely as means to our own ends. Through acts of altruism, Kant believed, we demonstrate our respect for the inherent value of all human life and our commitment to the greater good.
Friedrich Nietzsche, the famous philosopher of the 19th century, had a more cynical view of altruism. He saw it as a form of self-deception, an attempt by individuals to feel good about themselves through acts of kindness. But despite this view, Nietzsche acknowledged the importance of altruism in shaping the moral fabric of society, and the positive impact that selfless acts of kindness can have on the world.
Jean-Paul Sartre, the famous existentialist philosopher, believed that altruism was a way of asserting one’s freedom and independence from societal norms and expectations. Through acts of altruism, he argued, we demonstrate that we are not beholden to the expectations and constraints of society, but rather that we have the ability to act on our own beliefs and make our own choices.
Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, saw altruism as an expression of our innate sympathy. He believed that when we see others in need, we are naturally moved to help, and that this inclination is what makes altruism possible. Through acts of kindness and generosity, Smith believed, we tap into the better angels of our nature and bring out the best in ourselves and in others.
The utilitarian philosophers, such as Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, believed that altruism was about maximizing overall happiness and reducing suffering. They saw it as a means of promoting the greatest good for the greatest number of people and as a way of ensuring that the world was a better place for all.
the concept of altruism has been a subject of contemplation and discussion among the greatest minds throughout history. From Aristotle’s view of it as a cornerstone of virtuous friendship, to Kant’s belief in altruism as a moral duty, to Smith’s understanding of it as a manifestation of our innate sympathy, the idea of acting selflessly for the benefit of others has inspired and challenged philosophers for centuries. The differing perspectives on altruism are a testament to its enduring significance and its ability to evoke deep reflection and contemplation about the nature of morality and the human experience. But what unites these diverse views is the understanding that altruism represents the very best of humanity: a willingness to put the needs of others before our own and to strive towards a world that is kinder, more compassionate, and more just. May we all be inspired by the ideals of altruism, and may we all strive to make a positive impact in the world through our own selfless acts of kindness.
Empathy, as a word, is a rather recent import into the English language. The term was introduced in as late as 1909 by psychologist Edward Titchener, as a variant of the German word “Einfühlung,” meaning “feeling into” (‘Empathy,’ 2008).
Empathy is, in many a sense, a voyage of the mind. It affords us apropos reality what travel affords us apropos the world. A richer, deeper, and broader perspective and understanding, thus by consequence, true personal evolution. Each new person’s shoes we step into takes us on a journey into their version of reality – existence from their vantagepoint.
Benefits of Empathy
Connect Better With Others
One of the primary benefits of empathy is that it enhances our ability to connect better with others. By gaining the perspective of someone – be it a colleague or stranger – we begin to better comprehend their emotions, thus gaining greater emotional closeness amongst ourselves.
Resolves Conflicts Easier
In a situation of conflict, there is a natural positive consequence of gaining greater insight into someone’s emotions. Stepping into their perspective allows us to understand their arguments better, their reactions better and compare both to ours. This allows us to identify both common denominators and dissonances in our positioning and thus work towards bridging the gap in the latter using the former.
Broadens Your Perspective
We often view reality from a single prism. Seeing the world from the emotional seats of others allows us to step into a multitude of others’ shoes – in all shapes and sizes – and see the world from multiple perspectives. It gives us a clearer, richer, and more informed perspective on reality.
Be a Better Leader
The above traits are often key ingredients to great leadership practices. A combination of one’s ability to connect with one’s team, the ability to resolve any conflicts or misunderstandings therein, and to make decisions from a broader, big-picture perspective can help truly transform one into a leader in the true sense of the word.
Reduce Negative Behaviour
Studies have shown that empathy can significantly reduce negative behaviour or actions which may be to the detriment to others. A paper from 2011 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Todd, Bodenhausen, Richeson & Galinsky, 2011) demonstrated that empathy can directly reduce instances of pre-existing bias. The Roots of Empathy research conducted over the course of seventeen years in Ireland (Connolly, Miller, Ke, Sloan, Gildea, McIntosh, Boyer, Bland, 2018) also demonstrated that greater empathy lead to reduced bullying among children.
Make Doing Good Instinctive
We are, to a large extent, designed to do what is overall in our best interest, based on the chemical reaction chain of emotions we have as a result of our circumstances and inputs. Empathy allows us to essentially replicate the sentiments and emotions of others facing a different set of circumstances to a varying degree. This thus promotes an altered chain of emotional reaction within us, to more naturally and instinctively do what is good for others.
Pathway to Greater Compassion
Our comportment with relation to the plight of others sits along a care scale comprising sympathy, empathy and compassion. While sympathy may be us feelings sorry for others, empathy allows us to begin to truly feel the pain of others. This progression along the scale drives us towards towards the sentiment of compassion, where we’re passionately moved to act – to ameliorate others’ suffering or make a difference.
Four Ways to Practise Empathy
The good news – empathy comes built-in, to some extent, for most of us. German researcher Leonard F. Häusser has demonstrated through his work that our brain’s “mirror neurons” connect us socially to others and drives us to connect with them emotionally (Häusser, 2012).
Avoid Jumping to Conclusions
Our brains are paragons of energy and resource efficiency. This is partly achieved by us using pre-existing notions and beliefs to quickly reach conclusions, minimizing both the use of calories and time. However, if we actively engage our minds to contemplate circumstances pertaining to others, this affords us a greater opportunity to truly feel and react in a meaningful way.
Listening, truly listening to others is a skill. This entails actively paying attention without concurrently forming a response in our minds. By allowing space for others’ words to form a picture for us rather than using them as pieces to complete a preexisting narrative in our mind, we gain greater proximity to their perspective.
We may not always agree with others from the onset. But to truly empathise, it is important to learn to put aside and control any negative reactions we may have to or towards them. Allowing others’ ideas without prejudice affords them a clean slate and us the ability to connect with them in an unadulterated, authentic way.
While a breadth of perspective may be a consequence of empathy, thinking broadly may be a catalyst for it. A non-parochial perspective of our actions and reality – not confined to our immediate reality – allows us to extend our emotional connection to those who we may not have otherwise. This maybe be factory workers who produce our merchandise to marine life at our mercy. By thinking about those who we may not be directly interacting or affecting but who may be indirectly affected by our actions, we allow them emotional capital in our hearts and instinctively modulate our behaviour to their benefit.
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The Virtues of a Smile
The Power of a Smile: Why You Should Smile More
A smile is a simple yet powerful expression, capable of transcending language and cultural barriers. Despite its apparent simplicity, a smile can have a profound impact on both the person who is smiling and those around them. In this chapter, we will explore the many virtues of a smile and why you should make it a habit to smile more.
The Science of Smiling
At its core, smiling is a neurobiological response that triggers the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters that are associated with feelings of happiness and well-being. In fact, even the mere act of smiling can trigger the release of these neurotransmitters, regardless of whether you are feeling happy or not. In other words, smiling can trick the brain into feeling happy, even when circumstances might not warrant it.
But the impact of a smile doesn’t stop there. Research has shown that a genuine smile can also lower stress levels, boost the immune system, and even improve cardiovascular health. Furthermore, a smile can be contagious, spreading positive feelings and boosting morale among those around you.
The Virtues of Smiling
In addition to its physiological benefits, a smile has numerous social and emotional benefits as well. For one, smiling is a universal gesture of kindness and goodwill, often breaking down barriers and bringing people together. Whether you are dealing with a difficult colleague or engaging with a stranger, a smile can make all the difference in creating a positive and harmonious interaction.
Moreover, a smile can project confidence and optimism, even when you may not feel it. In social situations, a smile can convey that you are approachable and friendly, making it easier to form new relationships and connect with others. Furthermore, a smile can be a powerful tool for diffusing tense situations and resolving conflicts.
Finally, a smile is a self-fulfilling prophecy. By smiling more, you will naturally attract positive experiences and people into your life, creating a self-reinforcing cycle of happiness and well-being.
The Art of Smiling
Of course, not all smiles are created equal. A forced or fake smile may have the opposite effect, creating feelings of discomfort and mistrust. A genuine smile, on the other hand, is characterized by the contraction of the zygomatic muscles, which raise the corners of the mouth and crinkle the eyes.
Therefore, the art of smiling is not simply about stretching the lips, but about opening the heart and expressing genuine joy and happiness. By making smiling a habit, you will become more attuned to the many benefits it has to offer and will find yourself smiling more often and more authentically.
A smile is a simple yet powerful expression that has a transformative potential that is often underestimated. Whether you are dealing with challenges or simply going about your day-to-day activities, a smile can bring happiness, positivity, and a sense of connection to the world. So let us make smiling a habit, and in doing so, bring more joy and light into our lives and the lives of those around us.
Hugs maintain deep roots in the animal kingdom, particularly in the great apes (Forsell & Aström, 2012). Hugs have served a rich diversity of purposes over history and continue to do so today. Be it as a greeting, over an accomplishment, to show gratitude, or to comfort someone; a hug is a universal social gesture which crosses cultural and social boundaries. But, in addition to being a gesture per se, hugs offer positive benefits to the hugger and huggee equally.
Hugs lead to an increased release of oxytocin levels into our bloodstream. This in turn increases the sense of bonding and connection, such as in the case of partners (https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2005/07000/Effects_of_Partner_Support_on_Resting_Oxytocin,.4.aspx), thus reducing feelings of isolation while building a sense of support and trust.
Mood & Depressions
Hugs can increase the production of dopamine in your brain significant enough to be noticed in PET scans. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s pleasure centers. Powered with the above, regular hugs may help alleviate depression and negative moods, particularly post or during instances of conflict (Murphy, 2018).
Hugging can increase the production of serotonin from your brain which can boost your mood and lead to an increased sense of pleasure and happiness, and further negate sadness.
Hugs can reduce the levels of cortisol in your blood, which is our stress hormone. Studies at both Carnegie Mellon (Rea, 2014) and Emory University have suggested links between hugs and lowered stress, and during stressful events, the former suggested hugs “could even help you stay calm, cool, and collected during the event.”
Hugs have also been linked to the increased production of endorphins, strengthening the body’s immune response (Lehr, 2009). Further, research funded by the National Institute of Health in the United States (Rea, 2014) has suggested that the act can lead to less severe symptoms during the illness itself.
The act of hugging has also been shown to decrease blood pressure (Grewen, Girdler, Amico & Light, 2015), thus reducing risks from related diseases such as stroke, heart attack, and damage to blood vessels and organs, the brain, heart, eyes, and kidney (Holland, 2018).
Derived from the terms “hog” or “hagen” in old Saxon and Teutonic, the original meaning of “to be tender” or “to embrace” holds true today. However, the action itself imparts far more to society and communities of all shapes and sizes. Be it building more trusting relationships, improved mental wellbeing or health, a hug is the one thing you cannot over self-prescribe.
Lehr, L. J. (2009) A hug: the miracle drug. Retrieved from www.HelpINeedaHug.com.
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Murphy, M. (2018). Receiving a hug is associated with the attenuation of negative mood that occurs on
days with interpersonal conflict. PLoS One. Retrieved from
Rea, S. (2014). Hugs help protect against stress and infection, say Carnegie Mellon researchers.
Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved from
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Grewen, K. M., Girdler, S. S., Amico, J., Light, K. C. (2005) Effects of partner support on resting oxytocin, cortisol, no blood pressure before and after warm partner contact. Psychosomatic Medicine, 67, 531–538.
The Importance of Random Acts of Kindness and Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness
In a world where negativity and division seem to be at an all-time high, the importance of random acts of kindness cannot be overstated. These simple acts have the power to spread positivity, connect with others, and even improve our own well-being. In this chapter, we will explore why random acts of kindness are important, drawing upon both scientific research and anecdotal evidence, and provide some ideas for how you can incorporate them into your daily life.
First, let us examine the scientific basis for why random acts of kindness are so impactful. Studies have shown that performing acts of kindness releases feel-good chemicals in the brain, such as oxytocin and dopamine, which can reduce stress and anxiety, boost self-esteem, and even improve physical health. Furthermore, acts of kindness have been shown to increase social connections and a sense of community, which in turn can lead to greater happiness and overall well-being.
So, how can we put these ideas into practice? Here are some simple yet powerful ideas for incorporating random acts of kindness into your daily life:
Pay it forward: The next time you are in line at a coffee shop or drive-thru, pay for the person behind you. A small gesture like this can go a long way in making someone’s day.
Leave a positive note: Write a short note of encouragement or thanks and leave it on a co-worker’s desk or in a friend’s mailbox. A little bit of positivity can go a long way.
Volunteer: Spend a few hours of your time volunteering at a local shelter, food bank, or community center. Not only will you be helping others, but you will also feel good about yourself.
Compliment someone: Take the time to compliment someone on something you admire about them. It could be something as simple as their smile or their hard work. A compliment can go a long way in boosting someone’s self-esteem.
Help a neighbor: Offer to help an elderly neighbor with yard work or grocery shopping. Or, bring them a meal or dessert. Small acts of kindness can have a big impact.
Donate: Donate money, clothing, or other items to a local charity or shelter. A little generosity can go a long way in making a difference in someone’s life.
Offer a hug: Sometimes, a hug can say more than words. Offer a hug to someone who looks like they could use one. A physical touch can have a powerful impact on our emotional well-being.
In conclusion, random acts of kindness have the power to make a difference in someone’s life, to improve our own well-being, and to help create a more positive and connected world. So, let us make a conscious effort to perform at least one act of kindness each day. Who knows, you may even inspire others to do the same. And, as the great philosopher Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Let us make kindness a habit, and together we can create a world filled with positivity, compassion, and connection.
Organ Donation – A Gift that Keeps Giving / A Legacy of Sacrifice/The Gift of Life
Organ donation is a remarkable act of generosity that has the power to transform lives and shape the very fabric of our society. It is a testament to the boundless capacity for kindness that lies within us all, and a shining example of the best of human nature. In this chapter, we will delve into the philosophical, scientific, and ethical implications of organ donation, exploring the ways in which it has been celebrated and respected throughout the ages.
From a philosophical perspective, organ donation can be viewed as a demonstration of our shared humanity and the bonds of compassion that connect us all. It is an expression of empathy, recognition of the fact that our own well-being is inextricably linked to the well-being of others, and a statement of our commitment to helping those in need. In this sense, organ donation is not simply a gift to others, but a gift to ourselves as well. By improving the lives of others, we become better people, and our own lives are enriched by the knowledge that we have made a positive impact on the world.
From a scientific perspective, organ donation is a testament to the remarkable advances in modern medicine and the incredible ingenuity of our medical professionals. The ability to transplant healthy organs into individuals in need is a triumph of human achievement, and the results can be truly life-changing. Consider this: a successful transplant can restore the ability to breathe, see, hear, and move freely, and can provide recipients with a new lease on life. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, one organ donor has the potential to save up to 8 lives.
The ethics of organ donation are also worth considering. The notion of altruism is central to the act of donating an organ, as it requires an individual to put the needs of another person before their own. It is an act of selflessness that has the potential to transform lives and create a ripple effect of kindness and compassion. Moreover, the benefits of organ donation extend beyond the recipient, as it provides their family and loved ones with a renewed sense of hope and a brighter future.
Despite the many benefits of organ donation, only a small percentage of people actually choose to become donors. This is due, in part, to a lack of understanding about the process and the impact it can have. It is our hope that by raising awareness about the importance of organ donation, we can encourage more people to consider this life-changing act.
In conclusion, the importance of organ donation cannot be overstated. It is a demonstration of our shared humanity and the depth of our compassion for others. It is a triumph of human achievement, a gift to both the recipient and the donor, and a legacy of kindness and generosity that will endure for generations to come. So let us celebrate the power of organ donation, and do our part to support this incredible cause by considering organ donation and spreading the word to others. It is our chance to make a positive impact on the world and to leave a legacy of love and hope that will endure for generations to come.
10 Causes to Donate To
The 10 Most Important Causes to Donate To
In a world filled with challenges and suffering, it can be overwhelming to try to determine where to direct our charitable giving. There are countless worthy causes, and each of us may have our own personal priorities. However, there are certain causes that have been shown to have a significant impact on reducing suffering and improving quality of life for individuals and communities. In this chapter, we will explore the 10 most important causes to consider donating to, based on scientific evidence and expert opinion.
Global Health: Diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis continue to have a devastating impact on communities around the world. Donating to organizations that focus on global health can help to provide lifesaving treatments, preventative measures, and education to communities in need.
Education: Education is one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of poverty and improve quality of life. Donating to organizations that support education initiatives, such as providing scholarships and building schools, can have a lasting impact on individuals and communities.
Hunger and Malnutrition: Nearly 800 million people around the world are affected by hunger and malnutrition. Donating to organizations that focus on food security and hunger relief can help to provide meals and nutrition education to those in need.
Clean Water and Sanitation: Lack of access to clean water and adequate sanitation is a major contributor to disease and death in developing countries. Donating to organizations that focus on improving access to clean water and sanitation can have a profound impact on communities.
Environmental Protection: Climate change, deforestation, and pollution are major threats to our planet. Donating to organizations that focus on environmental protection and conservation can help to preserve our planet for future generations.
Human Rights: Millions of people around the world are denied basic human rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and assembly. Donating to organizations that focus on human rights advocacy can help to support individuals and communities in their fight for justice.
Disaster Relief: Natural disasters and humanitarian crises can have a devastating impact on communities around the world. Donating to organizations that focus on disaster relief and recovery can help to provide immediate assistance and support for those in need.
Animal Welfare: Animals are an important part of our world, and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Donating to organizations that focus on animal welfare can help to improve the lives of animals and protect them from abuse and neglect.
Mental Health: Mental illness affects millions of people around the world and can have a profound impact on quality of life. Donating to organizations that focus on mental health initiatives, such as providing therapy and support services, can help to improve the lives of individuals and communities.
Community Development: Donating to organizations that focus on community development initiatives, such as microfinance, job training, and entrepreneurship support, can help to empower individuals and communities to lift themselves out of poverty and achieve self-sufficiency.
In conclusion, there are countless worthy causes to consider donating to, but the 10 causes outlined in this chapter are particularly impactful in reducing suffering and improving quality of life for individuals and communities. By making informed giving decisions and supporting effective organizations, we can make a meaningful difference in the world. Let us not forget the words of the great philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who said, “The man who dies rich, dies disgraced.” Instead, let us strive to use our resources to make a positive impact on the world and leave a legacy of kindness and generosity.
Causes Which Need our Support
Our reality today is a complex one, cohabitated by unimaginable and ever-accelerating progress side by side with innumerable grave crises plaguing the globe at large. While these exist in forms big and small, near and far, the alleviation of a select few key ones could lead to momentous drop in the level of suffering globally.
“It is health that is the real wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver.” said Mahatma Gandhi. This becomes far too evident rather quickly once a loved one or ourselves are faced with unexpected health challenges. Physical ailments, subject to their severity, can override much of the positive in our lives. Fortunately for many in the first world, some variant of health assurance (be it universal healthcare or private insurance) provides us access to most curative measures at the disposal of modern medicine. And, in the worst of cases, the ambulance is but a phone call away.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for all, particularly those in the third world. Access to any medical assistance is often uncertain, let alone a quality one. The health of those in such at-risk regions are further impaired by malnutrition and lack of precautionary measures. Further, whatever litte in the way of health facilities are available may rapidly become inundated in the event of natural catastrophes, conflict, or epidemics.
The World Health Organization states that a shocking half of the world lack access to essential health services (Ghebreyesus, 2017). Through supporting charities such as Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, Avert, and The Red Cross; we can play our part in improving these statistics significantly.
Food & Water
Hunger and poverty are among the most prevalent and yet most preventable community problems globally. Every ten seconds, a child dies of starvation (Facts You Need To Know About Hunger, 2018) while nearly a third of all food produced in the west is never consumed. Hunger kills more than twice as many as AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
The situation is not much brighter with regards to clean water. One in three people globally do not have access to safe drinking water (Naylor, 2019). Every year, the lack of access to clean water leads to as many deaths as the population of Los Angeles.
Thankfully, there are organizations we can support who are working day and night to ensure these very fundamental needs are met for as many as possible. These include Action Against Hunger, World Food Program, The Hunger Project, CARE International, Charity Water, and Water Aid.
Animal crulty’s prevalence is an ill-kept secret. From exploitation for tourism such as hunting and performing animals, to torturous product testing; from violent deaths for the sake of fashion products to the inhumane conditions much livestock is kept today. From South African lion’s to Thai elephants, ethics is often left out of the equation in their treatment. Closer to home, even domesticable and companion animals are often subject to treatments sans compassion.
Through organizations such as World Animal Protection, WWF, RSPCA, International Fund for Animal Welfare, PAWS (Performing Animals Welfare Society), we can take steps to help ensure the welfare of the many innocent living beings who do not have a say in the matter.
While there have been many strides along the way, gender inequality still plagues society in a vast multitude of ways. From a complete lack of the right to vote in the most severe of instances to widespread gender pay gaps in the most developed of nations. In the professional space, only 5% of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women (https://inequality.org/gender-inequality/) and worldwide women continue approximately 30% less than men (https://www.oxfam.org.au/what-we-do/gender-equality/). Yet, many nations further restrict the roles women can participate in or the number of hours they are permitted to work. One in three continue to face violence and women have mere 26% median representation in decisive politics globally (The Sustainable Development Goals Report, 2019).
However, significant progress is being made and we have the opportunity to be on the right side of history by supporting the many organizations stewarding the change. These include InterAction, Equality Now, UN Women, and the Internal Women’s Development Agency.
The environment and our ecosystem are undoubtedly our sole means of survival as a species in a universe otherwise largely hostile to humans. Yet, as society grows, we act to its detriment every step of the way. According to the World Meteorological Organization (2018) 20 of the hottest years on record have been in the past 22, and our carbon concentration in the air is the highest it has been in 3 million years (Climate Change: 11 Facts You Need To Know, n.d.). More than a million species remain at risk of extinction or eradication, including nearly a billion humans and nearly half of all amphibians (Liptak, 2019). According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Global Warming of 1.5°C, 2018) we have less than a decade to prevent the very worst of the impending climate disaster. Our future and that of millions of others, therefore, is squarely in our hands – the hands of this very generation. We can take charge of the required change by starting with an introspective look at our very own impact, encouraging others to do the same, and supporting the many organizations doing the same. These include the Climate Action Network, the UN Environment Program, The Environmental Defence Fund, and the World Meteorological Organization.
Disability as a global issue remains largely overlooked and underestimated. Approximately a billion people suffer from some form of disability, yet nearly half of them cannot afford adequate care. It affects the ability for millions to receive education or employment — nearly half remaining unemployed — making them more susceptible to poverty (10 Disability Facts, 2017). This is in addition to the discrimination faced daily across all aspects of the everyday life of someone differently abled. While rehabilitation and relevant medical facilities remain inadequate in many parts of the globe, we can still play a part to bring a greater semblance of normalcy into their lives. The apps BeMyEyes and BeSpecular allows one to act as remote eyes for the disabled through their phones, while organization such as Fred Hollows help cure blindness altogether. Limbs International are committed to helping those with physical disabilities where e-Nable allows those around the world with 3D printers to print prosthetics for those in need.
This remains, however, anything but an exhaustive list, with factors such as illiteracy, migratory crises, and more requiring a significant slice in the pie of our attention and effort.
Humans, much like many other sentient beings, are designed to think at a scale which enables us to develop the optimal ongoing strategy for our own survival — we think locally by default. This is, however, nowhere near the scale and complexity with which we are truly capable of perceiving and understanding the world around us. As the evolution of society outpaces that of our biology by leaps and bounds, it is now more than ever in the best interest of all to break out of our local mould — to think globally.
The impact of our actions
In an era where our individual footprint, accumulated, is detrimental to the future of all life on the planet, it is crucial for us to contemplate the global impact of our actions and decisions. From the sustainability of our actions to our buying power, acting with awareness as a community, we yield far greater power than we imagine.
Putting reality in context
Taking a panoramic view of reality is also a powerful tool to put the many highs and lows, wins and losses of our lives to scale. Be it to realize the insignificance of our trivial issues in comparison to that of many others, or to exercise gratitude for our fortune and blessings by realizing its true rarity.
Conversely, a parochial perspective may easily blind us to the truest deficits of justice and equality in the world. The fixer-upper that is our planet needs us to step back and see past the petty faults we may find in front of us and investigate what may truly need our most urgent attention.
Learning from others’ mistakes
Reducing our biases
Despite our best attempts at being moral and upright beings, biases, prejudices are often present at a deep and unconscious level. Judgement and stereotyping carried with it, once upon a time, a significant evolutionary advantage — permitting us to effectively identifying our own, triggering our fight-or-flight systems in the presence of potential dangers such as unfamiliar faces or beings, or allowing us to draw rapid analysis of our environmental factors to help us act in our best survival interest.
These biases are often either inherent (requiring a data set of zero) or developed through limited negative exposure (perhaps a data set of a handful). Through taking a genuine interest in a world beyond our immediate milieu, with greater knowledge of and exposure to that and those unfamiliar to us, we can develop a more accurate and authentic perception.
Developing empathy, sympathy, and compassion
We cannot understand until we’re aware. We cannot care until we understand. And we do not act until we care. Our ability to experience true empathy and caring for those beyond our immediate scope — the degree of care which moves us to take compassionate action, to make a true difference — can only truly arise by having an inclusive mindset. By exercising global awareness and educating ourselves on the world at large.
Deriving richer morals
The debate on the subjectivity or objectivity of aspects of morality is seemingly irresolvable. However, the concept in its many evolving forms has laid the foundations of much of what we consider “good” in this world. While incompatible morals may have lead to wars at a global scale, certain common values such as fairness, honesty, and greater wellbeing have stood the test of time. While the sense of right or wrong instilled in us may have been subject to innumerable cultural and societal factors, exposing ourselves to the vast spectrum of morality from the world over can help us develop a richer and more robust set of principles.
In an ever-connected reality where impact, relationships, and ideologies reach far past the threshold of our immediate reality; it is crucial that we realize that the bounds of what matters and should matter to us extends to a much vaster, global community.
Hippocampus neurogenesis novelty
The act of consuming is a fundamental aspect of our daily lives, and yet, it is often viewed as a purely self-interested pursuit. However, as consumers, we have the power to not only improve our own lives but also the lives of others through our purchasing decisions. Our purchasing decisions can contribute to a world where business practices are driven by ethics and compassion, rather than just profit. With each purchase, we have the opportunity to cast a vote in favor of a kinder, more just world.
One of the most impactful ways we can do this is by becoming more altruistic consumers. An altruistic consumer is someone who prioritizes the well-being of others and the planet when making purchasing decisions. This can include considering factors such as the company’s labor practices, environmental impact, and community involvement.
Incorporating altruism into our consumer habits can be challenging, but it is well worth the effort. By making more conscious purchasing decisions, we can work towards creating a world where business is a force for good.
Here are several key ways to become a more altruistic consumer:
Do Your Research: Before making a purchase, take the time to research the company behind the product. Look into their values, labor practices, and environmental impact. Sites like GoodGuide.com and EthicalConsumer.org can be helpful in finding companies that align with your values.
Choose Products That Give Back: Look for products that have a social or environmental mission. Many companies now offer products that give back to specific causes or communities, or that are made using sustainable materials.
Support Local Businesses: Shopping at locally-owned businesses helps to keep money in the local economy and can help support small-scale entrepreneurs who often have a more personal investment in the well-being of their communities.
Opt for Quality Over Quantity: When we buy products that are made to last, we not only reduce waste but also support companies that prioritize quality over quantity. This helps to create a market for durable goods that are built to last.
Vote With Your Wallet: By choosing products and companies that align with your values, you can vote in favor of a more ethical and sustainable world. Each time you make a purchase, you have the power to shape the market and encourage companies to prioritize ethical business practices.
As consumers, we have the power to create a better world. By becoming more altruistic consumers, we can support businesses that prioritize the well-being of others and the planet, and help to create a world where business is a force for good.
It’s not just about the individual choices we make, but the collective impact of those choices. Let’s use our purchasing power to create a world that is more just, equitable, and compassionate for all.
30 Days of Good / Your Acts of Kindness Calendar
We all have in our hearts the desire to do good. However, we may not always have the means, motivation, or occassion to do so. “Good” as a concept is what we make of it, in that lack of clarity often lies the problem. With that in mind, I invite you to take the 30 Days of Good challenge. The challenge outlines 30 specific, easy, and free or inexpensive acts you can do each day for 30 days – each with a positive impact on others or the planet.
- Compliment someone you know
- Plant a seed or tree
- Show someone gratitude
- Donate to a meaningful cause
- Volunteer for a day
- Convert some of your recurring paper bills into digital ones
- Eat meat-free for a day
- Give more hugs for a day
- Help someone you know with something
- Compliment a stranger
- Smile more for a day
- Leave someone a secret gift
- Donate one or more of your items
- Help a stranger with something
- Purchase something from.goodshop.com instead a regular store (a percentage goes to charity)
- Check up on someone
- Let someone past you in a queue
- Treat someone to a coffee or something small
- Support a homeless person
- Be a blind person’s eyes using the BeMyEyes app
- Tell someone a difficult truth
- Donate blood
- Register as an organ donor if you aren’t already
- Give a small loan to a third-world business via kiva.org
- Teach someone something
- Praise someone
- Apologise to someone for something you may have done in the past
- Help donate to the third world using the UN Free Rice game freerice.com
- Switch to Good Search for a day goodshop.com/search (profits from each search goes to charity)
- Forgive someone
The calendar is certainly not designed to be a one-one-time use tool, but rather an ongoing source of inspiration. For the more committed among us, you may take up the challenges on a 30-day recurring basis. Meaning, you could restart the calendar every 30 days, using it rather as a daily good deed guide, for the duration of the year and beyond.
Virtues of Compliments
Be it a passing remark or a heart-felt commendation, a compliment can put a spring in anyone’s step. For an act which costs little in the way of effort and even less when it comes to resources, compliments are accompanied by a rather astounding repertoire of benefits — some more apparent than others.
Improve one’s performance
Compliments have a surprisingly powerful impact on our performance outcomes under a variety of circumstances and in numerous way — from work outcomes to motor skills (xxxx, 2012). In fact, studies have found social rewards such as compliments to have an impact equivalent to that of actual monetary compensation.
Increase learning-conducive behaviour
In addition to direct performance improvements, studies have also shown compliments to noticeable improve behaviour and nurture mindsets which support learning (Wilhelms, 2013). The introduction of praise was demonstrated to increase communication, decrease environmental stress, and increase course-related confidence in students as late as in university.
Affirm desired or positive behaviour
Compliments, much like gratitude, also release one of our favorite neurotransmitters, dopamine. This plays a crucial role in the activation of our rewards circuit, helping reinforce a positive behaviour which may have lead to the compliment itself.
Develop better social and work environments
Psychology Professor Haslam from the University of Melbourne states that compliments can help develop positive relationships and a bring about mutual sensation of social connection. (Huffpost) It achieves this partly by tapping into and helping satiate our need for recognition, belonging, and appreciation.
Improve social dynamics
Socially and psychologically speaking, each compliment delivers a two-pronged impact — both to the sender and the receiver. Compliments can improve both party’s moods, increase the mutual sense of warmth, and make interactions more enjoyable overall (Blatchford, 2017).
Provide a surprising health benefit
But what is perhaps even more surprising is the fact that a compliment can effect not merely the receiver, nor just the giver, but any observer as well (Hamilton 2014). Perhaps one of the most surprising effects of a compliment is that on one’s immune system. Dubbed the Mother Teresa effect by Harvard researchers, merely witnessing acts of kindness such as compliments can lead to in the uplift of salivary immunoglobulin A (s-IgA), our knights in shining armour in the face of harmful pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.
This all sounds well and good, but what’s the catch? From a pure economics perspective, compliments offer unparalleled ROI – more so than the most successful stock on the exchange. The multitude of benefits for all parties involved and beyond balanced against its little to no real cost or opportunity cost make it a sure-fire bet.
The compliment chain – your task.
Mark Twain once said he could go two months on a good compliment. Compliments can indeed nurture and nourish some of our most primal and societal needs; helping develop a more cohesive, productive, and happier community. As renowned mimics of rewarding behaviours and norms, it stands to reason that one may be more inclined to offer a compliment having received it. To that end, I leave you with a simple task and a deadline – make it a goal to offer at least one compliment to someone within the next 24 hours. You may just initiate a compliment chain and help put a spring in the step of your community.
“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” – Mark Twain
Degrees of Influence
Learn and performance. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0048174
10 Quotes To Live By
Never judge someone by the opinion of others.
Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching.
- C. S. Lewis/Charles Marshall
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
- Chinese Proverb
“Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you.”
- Originating from 19th centry preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon
“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
- Albert Pike
“Pay it forward.”
- Ancient Greek comedies to Benjamin Franklin’s letters. Ralph Waldo Emerson
- 1916 by author Lily Hardy Hammond in her novel In the Garden of Delight
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
“An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”
- M. K. Gandhi
“Be the reason someone smiles today”
- Roy T. Bennett
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
- Winston Churchill
Virtues of Gratitude
Philosopher G. K. Chesterton once remarked “‘Thanks’ are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” The strength of this relationship between happiness and gratitude has been demonstrated time and time again by science and society alike. However, gratitude plays many roles in our lives and community beyond that of a happy pill.
Benefits in society
A propagator of morality
According to the American Psychological Association (X, X, X & X, 2001 — psy miami) gratitude plays three key functions in moral or ethical behavior. Firstly, it can act as a moral barometer, indicating the receipt and recognition of a morally correct action (such as in the case of a selfless deed). Secondly, this pattern of gratitude receipt acts as an incentive for the actor to repeat similar morally correct actions in anticipation of more gratitude. And thirdly, by establishing the behavioral norm and pattern, it may encourage the recipient to act in a morally correct manner with other is future interactions as well, ultimately acting as a catalyst for prosociality.
Social trust and bond
In the journal of Personality and Individual Differences (2017), gratitude was shown to increase interpersonal wellbeing. Gratitude induced a greater and more intense motivational with relation to trusting others. According to psychology Professor Nathan DeWall from UK College of Arts & Sciences, gratitude can also aid in a reduction of aggression and make one “more likely to empathize with other people” (Zielger, 2011). A study in the journal Emotions (X) also found expressions of “thank you”s to increase interpersonal warmth and ease of social affiliation.
Benefits to health
Better personal health
Robert A. Emmons, psychology professor at University of California-Davis and gratitude researcher, has found clinical trials to indicate that expressions of gratitude alone can lead to significant improvements in health. This includes improved immune function, lowered blood pressure and greater physical fitness. He further states a correlated reduction of behavior with adverse health consequences, such as unhealthy diets, substance abuse, lack of adherence to medication, and more.
Better mental health
Beyond physical benefits, gratitude has also been shown to have significant benefits on mental health. A 2003 (PUBMED) study showed gratitude to notably increase multiple factors of wellbeing as well as a longer and better night’s sleep overall. Further, a meta-study focused on the indicators of life satisfaction, happiness and stress among others found evidence that dispositional gratitude was moderately to strongly related to wellbeing.
Benefits for recipient
Harvard Health, curating the result of multiple studies, states that expressions of gratitude in the workplace can lead to not only improved motivation among employees but also measurable performance, and as a consequence, results. One study noted as much as a 500% improvement in results with the introduction of gratitude.
We cannot conclude without stating the obvious – the benefit of gratitude to those it is actually intended for. A single ‘thank you, ’ for a recipient, is akin to a smorgasbord of gifts wrapped in two words. It can provide an instant burst of happiness, stress and anxiety relief, a boost in confidence, an increase in self-worth, a greater sense of purpose and utility, and much much more.
It is natural for humans to strive to be good, to however variable an extent. However, this desire runs concurrent with many others which may be equally strong while not entirely compatible, such as those related to self preservation. Among one of the strongest motivators to set this desire apart from the rest remains the recognition of our efforts to act justly – the reception of gratitude. While a thank you’s benefits range from personal health to societal well being, to greater productivity and much more; the act of gratitude remains, above all, a see for the next good deed. As the Dalai Lama once put it, “the roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.”
Dispositional gratitude https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886920302907
Wellbeing and sleep https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12585811/
In an era where digital connectivity has transformed the way we communicate, it’s no surprise that online activism has emerged as a powerful tool for driving change. From the Arab Spring to #MeToo movement, the Internet has enabled people to mobilize, organize, and demand justice on a scale never before seen. But despite its potency, many still view online activism with suspicion, regarding it as shallow and inauthentic. In this chapter, we’ll explore the importance of online activism and how it has helped bring about real, tangible change.
First and foremost, online activism has the power to reach millions of people in a matter of minutes. Through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, individuals and organizations can spread their message far and wide, gathering support and inspiring action. This is especially significant in countries where traditional forms of activism, such as protests, are heavily restricted or suppressed. Online activism provides a safe and accessible platform for people to voice their concerns, organize, and effect change.
Moreover, online activism can bring attention to issues that might have been ignored by traditional media. By creating viral campaigns and hashtags, online activists can bring attention to important social and political issues, even if they are not covered by mainstream media outlets. As a result, online activism has the potential to expose and challenge systemic injustices and hold those in power accountable.
One of the most powerful examples of online activism’s impact can be seen in the Arab Spring. In 2010, the death of a Tunisian street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi sparked a wave of protests across the Middle East and North Africa. Using social media, activists were able to organize and coordinate their efforts, ultimately leading to the toppling of several long-standing regimes. This was a clear demonstration of the power of online activism, showing how it can bring about significant political change even in the most oppressive of environments.
Another example of online activism’s impact can be seen in the Black Lives Matter movement. The death of George Floyd in 2020 sparked widespread outrage and protests, not just in the United States, but around the world. Through the use of hashtags and social media, the movement was able to gain international traction, drawing attention to the systemic racial inequalities that still exist in many countries.
While online activism is a powerful tool for change, it’s also important to recognize its limitations. It’s crucial that online activists are able to translate their digital activism into real-world action, otherwise, it becomes nothing more than clicktivism. Furthermore, the Internet is not immune to misinformation and propaganda, and it’s essential that online activists are able to discern credible sources from those that are not.
It’s undeniable that it has played a significant role in driving progress and challenging systemic injustices. As the digital age continues to evolve, it’s crucial that we harness the power of online activism to create a better world for all. So let us be mindful of the impact we have when we take to the internet to advocate for change. Let us use the power of online activism to make the world a better place, one post at a time.
Virtues of Blood Donating
Free snacks may be one of the more compelling reasons to donate blood, but there are innumerable others. An under-an-hour appointment can not simply help save lives but also improve one’s own.
Good for others
Human blood is a precious resource, and a short-lived one at that. Blood and the platelets it contains cannot be artificially manufactured (1). Furthermore, once extracted, blood only has a maximum shelf-life of 42 days. This leads to an ever-diminishing inventory of useable blood which relies on our generosity to be replenished.
What it helps with
One’s blood donation can be separated into a large number of transfusable components including red cells, platelets, plasma, cryoprecipitated AHF (cryo), and granulocytes which may, in turn, assist a large number of patients with a variety of conditions. (3) This allows a single blood donation to be converted to up to 22 unique life-saving treatments. (4)
Who it helps
A single blood donation can save up to 3 lives. (5). One out of ten people admitted to a hospital needs blood and so do nearly one in five surgical patients (2).
One’s blood donation can assist women with pregnancy complications both during or after childbirth, such as in the case of haemorrhages. Blood donations can also help disadvantaged and malnutritioned children with anemia as well as those with diseases such as malaria. Victims of natural disasters and unexpected traumas such as accidents and burns too often require significant quantities of blood to survive. This is all in addition to the blood transfusion required for many patients of cancer, which affects over a third of all adults.(4)
Good for the donor
According to dietitian and therapist Jan Patenaude (6) a blood quality check during one’s donation can lead to accidental discoveries of underlying health problems. In addition, blood donations are often preceded by health checks including your pulse, blood pressure, hemoglobin, temperature and more. This may also lead to the discovery of potential health conditions such as cardiovascular issues.
According to the CDC (7), removal of red blood cells can also lead to a reduction of potentially harmful excess stores of iron among some. In fact, this practice is often carried out as a preferred treatment to do so. Research in the American Journal of Epidomology (8) has also found a significantly reduced risk of heart attacks among regular blood donors. According to the study, annual blood donors may have up to an astounding 88% less likelihood of suffering from a heart attack, through the prevention or minimization of the occurrence of hemochromatosis mentioned above. Further, this may also lead to a reduction of free radicals and oxidative stress which may, in turn, reduce one’s cancer risk.
A paper by the Emory University Psychoanalytic Institute and The Institut Dobelle AG, Zurich (9) states that volunteering and altruistic activities such as blood donation can lead to significant actual psychological benefits in relation to happiness level, mental health, and instances of depression.
There are few activities which are as quick, effortless and free while delivering an often life-changing impact on others as well as oneself. But, all other factors aside, a smorgasbord of free snacks is well worth the inconvenience of a small pinprick.
Recurring Virtues Within Religions
As an agnostic-atheist, no words that follow do so with the design of establishing the veracity of religion or any ideology beyond the scope of traditional science. Religion may have indeed developed as method by which to structuralise a society’s knowledge and learned best practices within a paradigm which, in many ways, stood at the intersect of science and law. Religion, in many respects, has been a reflection of societal norms and over time acted as a representation of two categories of values.
The first are ephemeral values which come into existence as a function of temporary sociopolitical conditions, additions of knowledge without explanation (or lack of an adequate amount of either). These are often eroded through the evolution or complexification of these very communities or are absent entirely in other iterations of societies across the globe. Some of these values and teachings today may seem ignorant, abhorrent, or simply ridiculous.
The second are global values — once with greater consensus across time and geography. Ones which have appeared recurrently over millenia across a diversity of communities and societies. These values have often been those which have had evolutionary advantages for our species as a whole.
It is the latter to be discussed below, sampled from religions old and young and complemented with a hypothesis of their evolutionary origin and benefit.
Hinduism (1500BCE) – Personal Responsibility and Consequences
Recognizing the consequences of one’s actions remains a dominant component of Hinduism (2). While the specific supernatural ideas of “karma” (as they represented it) have no demonstrable scientific foundation, the simpler underlying notion of causality may have acted as a reminder to its followers to be considerate in their actions and mindful of their potential impact — good or bad. This is a need which may have developed as a natural corollary of the need for strategic planning to maximize our capacity to survive and propagate. This may have been further reinforced by the benefits of “preciprocation” discussed below under Christianity.
Judaism (1800BCE) – Environmental Sustainability.
Judaism contains recurring notions of preservation and sustainability. This is quite manifest in statements such as “See to it that you do not spoil and destroy My world; for if you do, there will be no one else to repair it” (3). This may have been derived from our general understanding of the importance of the stability of our immediate ecosystem in our survival (from the food we ate to the resources we used) coupled with the observed irreversibility of any damages to it. This may as well have an indication of our inherent understanding of the fundamental principles of entropy (4). It is what results in the fact that highly organized and high energy states (such as complex ecosystems) when reduced in complexity and therefore energy content (such as through the destruction of its structure) are less likely and more difficult to return to the previous state. It is the same reason it is easier to break a vase than repair it.
The Buddist notion of Samma Vaca pertains to “right speech.” It decries acts of lying, negative criticism, harsh language towards others, and gossip (1). We understand today that positive tribal dynamics lead to our success in crafting highly complex societies and survival strategies through collaboration. This would have been hindered by negative interactions such as hurtful criticism and language. The accuracy of the information propagated within our society too has been essential in us building a shared knowledge base as collective and developing a deeper and more accurate perception of reality. This has not only helped us survive, but allowed us to develop highly complex and sophisticated knowledge-based societies. All of this may have been jeopardized by information inaccuracy such as lies and gossip (or the historic equivalent of ‘fake news.’)
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” is a quote heard often both in and out of the context of the religion of Christianity and has been present in varying forms across multiple others. This notion of pay-it-forward-esque positive “preciprocation” may have also been reinforced by the fact that tribal units improved their overall survival by mutually caring for and minimizing the harm of those like them. However, in order to establish this norm, members would have had to demonstrate it — leading to a range of actions where emotions such as empathy, sympathy, and compassion play a key role.
“Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to each other. No one has any right, any superiority to claim over another.” Despite many noticeable inequalities in the islamic community today (as well as many others) — particularly across genders — the notion of the overall equality of humans is one of their key tenants as well as that of a number of historic religions. Equality may have been a default companion of equity in the evolutionary sense. In the journal PLoS ONE(???), researchers have posited that individuals may have chosen to cooperate with those who appeared to act fairly, thus agreeing to evenly share resources by considering each other equals.
The Proto-religion: Animism & Traditional African Religions (undated)
As the predecessor to modern organized religions, animism was the basis of many traditional indeginous and african religions. Animism, as a concept, presented all perceivable things to contain a spirit essence and these spirit essences intrinsically linked to human affairs.
The origins of this proto-religion may lie in our unparalleled capacity of pattern recognition, to the degree that we can derive patterns and connections where there are none (5). These false positives were a significant evolutionary advantage as the sensitivity of these instincts ensured we identified all possible threats, however faint their signs of presence. In a rudimentary environment, this may have led humans to draw parallels between themselves (their most familiar point of reference) and the world around them, leading to an anthropomorphistic perception of reality. A key value of this was a degree of respect and empathetic care with which they treated their environment. They would have been glad to know that their environment did in fact contain life imperceptible to them — be it trees or microorganisms. This predisposition for caution and care serves us well today in minimizing the inadvertent harm we cause — from our interactions with unfamiliar cultures, circumstances, and people to the measures we may take in interplanetary travel.
Many of the above values and teachings have appeared time and time again across a diversity of religions, cultures, and eras alike. While norms come and go, the average of many fundamental values we hold as “good” appear to transcend geo-societal trends. While history teaches us that all we believe to be right may not stand to be so for long, it also demonstrates — through the persistence of some of these long-lived values — that we may have indeed evolved with some semblance of a moral north within us all along.
- Midrash Kohelet Rabbah, 1 on Ecclesiastes 7:13
Voting for a Better Future: An Ethical Imperative
The act of casting a vote is often seen as a mere formality, a civic duty fulfilled with little thought or reflection. However, when we consider the full weight of our vote, the ethical significance of this act becomes clear. Every time we cast a vote, we are making a choice that will shape the future of our communities and our world. In this chapter, we will explore the ethical importance of voting, and the profound impact it can have on our lives and the lives of those around us.
At its core, voting is a means of exerting control over our collective destiny. It is a way for individuals to make their voices heard, and to help shape the world in which they live. Through voting, we can hold those in power accountable, and we can help to ensure that our communities reflect our values and beliefs. This act of participating in the democratic process is not only a right, but a moral obligation.
Moreover, the act of voting carries with it a sense of personal responsibility. When we cast a vote, we are making a conscious decision about the future of our world. We are choosing who will hold positions of power, and we are deciding which policies will be put into place. This choice carries with it a certain level of responsibility, as we are helping to shape the future for ourselves and future generations.
In the words of political scientist and philosopher Michael Walzer, “voting is an act of citizenship, but it is also an act of ethical judgment.” Through our votes, we are making a statement about what kind of world we want to live in, and what values we believe are important. This is why it is so critical that we educate ourselves about the issues, candidates, and policies on the ballot. We must make informed decisions that reflect our values and beliefs, and we must hold those in power accountable to their promises.
It is also important to note that voting has a tangible impact on the world. Every election, big and small, has the potential to shape the direction of our communities and our world. This is why it is so crucial that we make our voices heard, and why it is so important that we engage in the democratic process. The power of the vote should not be underestimated, and every vote has the potential to make a difference.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that voting is a way of showing respect for others. By participating in the democratic process, we are showing that we value the opinions and perspectives of others. We are also demonstrating that we believe in the importance of equality, and that we believe that every individual should have a say in how their world is shaped.
The act of voting is not just a formality, it is also a privilege. The right to vote is one that has been hard-won throughout history, and it is a right that we must fiercely protect. It is an ethical imperative, a personal responsibility, and a means of shaping the world. When we cast a vote, we are making a conscious decision about the future of our communities and our world. We are participating in the democratic process, and we are helping to ensure that our voices are heard. By engaging in this act of citizenship, we are playing a critical role in the future of our world, and we are helping to shape the world in which we live and we’d like generations to come to live in.
Virtues of Social Support
Asking the question – Are you OK?
The Importance Of Human Connection
Social connection and community support have been fundamental to the wellbeing of many lifeforms, humans inclusive. Community has been instrumental to our growth and progress as a species as well as the construction of our personal identities. According to renowned University of Oxford researcher, Dr. Robin Dunbar, humans require a minimum of three to give close friends to maintain optimal well being (1). We all need the “rocks” in our lives — ones to count on, confide in, open up to. Ones who will check in on us without a prompt, lend a hand without an ask.
However, as our social network of “friends” expand over the years, our average close circle of these confidantes may indeed be decreasing. According to a paper in the American Sociological Review, in developed and hyper-connected nations such as the US, the number of people without close friends has tripled in just a few decades (2).
This decline in our care network – an ever-decreasing lack of access to emotional support — can breed loneliness, which in turn can lead to a decline in both one’s physical and mental health.
Loneliness And Health – Physical And Mental
According to the Journal of Ageing Life Care (3), loneliness and social isolation can lead to up to an astounding 90% increase in the risk of death arising from cardiovascular issues. Further, according to a second study cited by the journal, as we age, greater loneliness may also correlate with a significant increase in our risk of functional decline over time.
In addition the the above, loneliness remains one of the most significant causes of depression, which carries with it its own set of challenges. Even mild, sub-clinical depression has been linked to an increased susceptibility to mortality by a variety of causes (4 Culjpers & Smit, 2002). It can also affect one’s immune function, increasing their risk of deadly infections and the like (5 Cohen S et al., 1997).
Depression is a global, human phenomena. It does not discriminate by age, gender, nationality or financial status. According to the WHO (6) it affects over a quarter billion people worldwide, leading to nearly 800,000 deaths annually. Depression also remains one of the leading causes of disability globally.
How You Can Help
As we experience this ever-shrinking supply of confidantes in the average person’s day to day life, it is contrasted by a parallel growth of the sheer volume of social contacts per person. As a result, it has, to a large extent, become a distributed responsibility across our community to step up to that plate. To be the first line of defence for others against loneliness, depression and their much worse consequences.
Recognizing the Signs
According to the mental health organization, R U OK (7), nearly two thirds of people couldn’t confidently identify signs of depression and over 40% hadn’t even checked in on others as a result. However, about as many indicated they may be more likely to if they did indeed know these signs.
R U OK breaks down the signs of depression or personal struggle into a number of succinct categories.
Verbal. It is important to pick up on the cues based on what someone may be saying — be it in person or online, such as on social media. This may be expressions of concern, self-deprecation, confusion, burden, or lack of hope.
Actions. It may also be possible to detect signs of struggle from someone’s behavioural changes — what they are doing. This can manifest in simple changes in online behavior, withdrawal or general lack of interest, or the lack of maintenance of personal upkeep.
Circumstances. It is also important to remain aware of what is happening in the lives of those around which may make them susceptible to depression . This may be loss of a loved one or a relationship, work or financial stress, or recent health issues.
Make a Difference
Step In. Reaching out with a genuine “are you OK” is often all that is needed to help someone take the first step out of their emotional silo. But, beyond being a sounding block, actively and attentively listening is also cruciatial to the process. This allows one to truly understand the issue with depth and offer suggestions, solutions, or simply a fresh perspective. And often, it is this perspective which makes a world of a difference. As artist James Deacon once said, “What you see depends not only on what you look at but also where you look from.”
Connect. Beyond the help we can offer, it is also important to share and connect them with the most relevant resources at our disposal which may assist them through their most trying times. This may range from the details of a support line to a book that’s helped us tackle ours.
The second type of connection is equally or perhaps more important – that of community. ‘Dunbar’s Number,’ derived by Professor Dumbar (quoted earlier in the chapter), refers to the theoretical average number of 150 true relationships a human being can maintain, based on the composition of our neocortex. Our close circle of the essential three to five is generally a subset of this larger set of relationships. While one may have thousands of contacts across social media platforms, they may be well below Dunbar’s Number in terms of true relationships. The mere act of introducing someone to new people — such as through social gatherings or activities — enables them to develop new relations and perhaps, discover that close circle of confidantes they’d been lacking all along.
In a complex society of breakneck pace, our flood of interactions may impede us from engaging in any with true depth. Innumerable cross paths with seemingly imperceptible struggles, none the wiser of their mutual ability to lend a hand. But often, all it takes is us reaching out, checking in, and asking the question – “are you OK?”
4 Get from 3
5 Get from 3
The Importance of Sharing: A Journey into the Heart of Altruism
In a world where material wealth and personal gain often take center stage, it is easy to forget the value of sharing. Yet, despite our cultural preoccupation with success and accumulation, sharing remains a fundamental aspect of human life, one that has the power to enrich both the giver and the receiver in ways beyond measure. In this chapter, we will delve into the science of sharing and explore why it is so important in our lives.
It is a well-established fact that human beings are social creatures. Our species evolved in small communities where sharing was not only a necessity but also a source of great pleasure. When we share, we create connections and build trust with others, and in turn, we feel a sense of belonging and purpose. This phenomenon is rooted in our biology and psychology, as sharing triggers the release of oxytocin, a hormone that plays a key role in social bonding and the creation of positive emotions.
Sharing is also a powerful force for good in the world. By giving away something of value, whether it be time, resources, or attention, we create opportunities for others to grow, learn, and flourish. In this way, sharing is a form of altruism, which has been shown to have a positive impact on mental and physical health. Studies have found that people who engage in acts of kindness and generosity experience reductions in stress and anxiety, as well as increased feelings of happiness and well-being.
However, sharing is not just beneficial for the individual, it also has the power to create positive change on a larger scale. Throughout history, great social movements have been driven by the collective sharing of ideas and resources, inspiring others to join in and create something truly remarkable. The power of sharing is not limited to grand political movements and social upheaval. In our contemporary world, it has the ability to shape our technological landscape and bring about game-changing innovations. For example, the open-source movement, which advocates for the unrestricted sharing of software codes, has led to the development of powerful platforms such as Linux, Apache, and countless other software tools that form the backbone of the internet.
Moreover, the rise of social media and the increasing prevalence of connected devices have opened up new avenues for sharing, enabling individuals to reach a global audience with ease. A simple tweet or a viral video has the potential to spark a movement, start a conversation, or challenge deeply held beliefs. Sharing has given voice to the voiceless, connected people across borders, and brought attention to important issues that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
The beauty of sharing is that it is not only accessible to the rich and powerful, but it is something that anyone can do, anywhere, at any time. Whether it is sharing a meal with a friend, donating to a charity, or simply offering a kind word to a stranger, sharing has the power to change lives for the better.
Sharing is not just a human behavior, it is an integral part of life itself, evident across the entire animal kingdom. From birds sharing food and raising their young together in communal nests, to primates grooming each other and forming alliances, sharing is a common theme in the natural world. Even in the microcosm of the single-celled organism, cooperation and sharing of resources are essential for survival. The exchange of genetic material through bacteria conjugation and the sharing of nutrients in symbiotic relationships are examples of how sharing is fundamental to the flourishing of life at its most basic level.
In conclusion, sharing is a vital aspect of life that has the power to enrich us on multiple levels. By building connections and fostering positive emotions, sharing enables us to grow and thrive as individuals and as a species. By choosing to share – be it our knowledge or our resources – we can play a small but meaningful role in shaping a better future for us all. In the words of the Dalai Lama, “Sharing is a way of life, a path to happiness, and a source of joy that comes from giving to others.”
The Importance of Paying it Forward
Paying it forward is a simple yet profound concept that has the power to change the world. It refers to the act of doing something kind or helpful for someone, not because you expect anything in return, but simply to make the world a better place. This virtuous cycle of kindness can create a ripple effect that spreads through communities, inspiring others to pay it forward in their own unique ways.
As a species, we are wired for empathy, compassion, and altruism. Our ancestors who were the most cooperative and helpful to each other were more likely to survive and pass on their genes to future generations. Over time, this has evolved into the strong social bonds and cooperative instincts that are part of our human nature. By paying it forward, we tap into this intrinsic desire to help others and make a positive impact on the world.
But it’s not just about the emotional benefits of doing good for others. Science has shown that paying it forward can have significant health and well-being benefits for the giver as well. Studies have found that acts of kindness and generosity release oxytocin, a hormone associated with feelings of happiness, contentment, and social bonding. Additionally, when we help others, we experience a sense of purpose and fulfillment that contributes to overall life satisfaction.
So how can we pay it forward in our daily lives? The answer is simple: in any way that feels meaningful to us. It can be as small as holding the door open for someone, leaving a kind note for a stranger, or making a donation to a charity. Or it can be as big as volunteering at a homeless shelter, donating blood, or helping to build a school in a developing country.
One of the beautiful things about paying it forward is that it’s completely customizable to your unique interests, abilities, and circumstances. For example, if you’re an artist, you could paint a mural in your community. If you’re a gardener, you could plant flowers in a local park. If you’re a musician, you could play for people in a nursing home. If you’ve got growing children, it’s the perfect opportunity to donate clothes, toys, or books to a children’s hospital.
At its core, paying it forward is about recognizing that we are all connected and that our actions have the potential to positively impact others. The practice of paying it forward has been around for centuries, and offers a tangible way to connect with others in an authentic way. Whether you’re engaging in acts of kindness and generosity, or simply spreading joy and positivity, there’s never been a better time to start paying it forward.
The Importance of Cooperation: An Exploration of Collaboration over Competition
In our fast-paced, achievement-oriented society, it is easy to be blinded by the allure of competition. Yet, as events in recent times have shown us, cooperation is not just a desirable trait, it is an essential one. It is through cooperation that we can unlock our full potential as individuals and as a species.
From a biological perspective, cooperation is ingrained in our very nature. It is a legacy of our evolutionary history, where our ancestors’ survival and success hinged on their ability to work together – from hunting and gathering, to defending against predators, to raising offspring. This makes cooperation one of the most fundamental aspects of our biology and a critical factor in our continued survival.
So, how can we cultivate a culture of cooperation in our modern world? Let’s explore a few examples:
Joint problem-solving: When faced with complex issues such as global warming or widespread pandemics, cooperation is critical in finding effective solutions. By combining our resources and knowledge, we can address these challenges together and achieve more than we could individually. The benefits of collective problem-solving are two-fold. Firstly, it allows us to pool our expertise, creativity and resources to develop comprehensive solutions. Secondly, it helps to mitigate the risks associated with relying on a single approach. In short, cooperation is essential in tackling complex global problems.
Cross-cultural exchange: Bringing individuals from different cultures together can lead to a wealth of opportunities for learning and exchange. By fostering greater understanding, we can break down cultural barriers and create a harmonious and inclusive world. By exposing ourselves to new perspectives and ways of thinking, we can expand our own understanding of the world and learn to respect the views and beliefs of others. This can be a powerful force for building bridges across cultural divides and creating a more harmonious world.
Building communities: Whether through shared interests or a common goal, communities can be a powerful force for good. By working together, we can achieve more than we could alone, and cultivate a sense of connection and purpose. Communities serve as a platform for individuals to come together and support each other, both emotionally and logistically. They also provide a sense of belonging and can bring people together in ways that transcend cultural and geographical boundaries.
Collective activism: The rise of social media has given birth to a new form of activism, enabling individuals to mobilize quickly and effectively on a global scale. From the Arab Spring to the #MeToo movement, online activism has been a driving force in bringing about significant social and political change. Collective activism has the power to effect real change in the world, by bringing together a large number of individuals with a shared goal. By leveraging the power of social media, we can reach a global audience and spark a conversation on issues that matter to us all.
The journey from competition to cooperation is not always an easy one. Our natural instincts to compete for resources and protect our own interests can lead to conflicts and divisions. However, by embracing the principles of cooperation and recognizing its benefits, we can navigate this path and achieve great things together.
While competition and cooperation don’t present a perfect dichotomy, the power of the latter cannot be overstated. By coming together and supporting each other, we can achieve incredible things that would be unattainable through competition alone. We can tackle complex challenges to build a better world for ourselves and future generations. It is in this choice of our modus operandi that we find a path towards a world of greater harmony, equilibrium, and fairness.
Choosing the Right Charity
We all have a desire to make an impact — some may even say, a moral obligation. While there are innumerable means of doing so, often, it is our monetary wealth which is the most potent, particularly in the first world. In fact, if you make a dollar more than $2,920 per year (2), you are in the top 50% of the world’s population.
However, money perse is no direct panacea for all the ills of inequality. What is of equivalent importance to “how much” is “what with.” The mileage of one’s charitable donation may vary enormously by virtue of the cause, location, and organization entrusted with it.
A stellar starting point for choosing the destination of your hard-earned dollar is to identify your passions. A charitable donation is more than a debit to one’s bank account – it is a commitment and demonstration of support for a cause. A commitment which requires a degree of care and passion. With three-quarters of charitable donations coming from individual donors and up to 80% of donations coming from a mere 20% of supporters (3) by virtue of the Parento Principle, it is those who are passionate enough to support a cause on an ongoing basis who often have the greatest impact.
Causes That Need Support
A second but equally important point is to identify the causes which are suffering from the most dire need of support. These may be causes such as fatal hunger where near immediate relief may be required or niche issues which may not have adequate awareness to receive the support required.
A third component of narrowing down the search for the right charity links back to our passion, or rather what kindles it — the location. There may be a number of ways social narratives which tug at our heartstrings based on where they are based. This may be one’s or one’s loved ones’ country of origin which may be more disadvantaged than their current. It may be the desire to support one’s current struggling local community. Or, it may simply be a compelling and compassionate human reaction to a regional crisis, such as the Rohingya refugee crisis (4).
Having identified this personal “mission statement” with relation to their charitable giving, it is crucial to align this with an effective means of implementing change through it — the charitable partner. While researching the appropriate charity partner, there are a number of key factors to take into consideration.
Rating and Financials
While choosing a charity, it is important to factor in its ability to efficiently use one’s dollars donated towards the intended causes. A non-profit may have an operating cost of anything between less than a single percent to over 40%. Each percentage higher an organization’s cost is a percentage less of the donations actually reaching their intended destination. According to Charity Watch, spending ¾ of donations directly towards a program is an indicator of high-efficiency for a non-profit (5). In addition to Charity Watch, a number of other organizations such as Charity Navigator and GiveWell also make this choice all the easier by assessing, rating, and ranking charities across the globe.
Values of the Organization
Beyond the simple math, before funding a non-profit’s actions and authorising it to do with your dollars what it may seem fit, one must ensure the organization’s values are aligned to theirs. This not only allows a great degree of personal connection, trust, and alignment with the organization; but ensures one’s contributions are implemented towards a shared vision of the utopian world.
A visible measure of an organization’s ability to create a true impact lies in the results delivered through their past projects. Whether it be the regional uplift of literacy through the construction of schools to reforestation efforts — there is no better indication of future success than a demonstrable track record.
Current and Future Projects
Beyond the mission and the vision, an organization’s ongoing work as well as future plans and project can also assist in providing a realistic expectation of how, when, and where a charitable buck donated today will manifest itself as change in the world.
Anne Frank once said, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” But what is truly enriching is acting as an active participant, through our buying power, to bring to fruition a fairer and better world which we can all take pride in calling home. And choosing the right charitable partner is the first crucial step towards that very goal.
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
― John Holmes
While there is no man or woman without their personal struggle, the manifestation of that word is dramatically different in the most under-developed regions of the world.
DRC $41 (1)
Equivalent value 20,000:1
“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
― Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank: the play