Selfish Altruism or Should we call it "Helper's High"

Years ago, when I was in my third year of engineering and had just received my 5th Semester results, I sat outside my classroom feeling despondent and unsatisfied with my marks. What I was doing, if anything, and was I on the correct course. I got a good CGPA, but I had hoped for better. I isolated myself from my social circle, and over the course of a few months, the topic of conversation gradually shifted to one of doom and gloom.


At that point, something happened to me when I was having lunch in the hostel's common area that changed the course of my life. As I sat there in the gloom, I began to observe the other members of my class. Some were huddled together in deep conversation, while others milled around aimlessly. I started merely watching others as they went about their day, instead of letting my mind wander to thoughts of how I stacked up against others or how alone I felt. All of a sudden, I saw everyone of them as generally good people who were just trying to figure out life. It was like looking through a kaleidoscope as the pieces moved to a new arrangement. I realised that, like them, I just wanted to be happy, and I came to believe that everyone has the right to do so.


I realised that making other people happy is the only thing that can truly make one's life worthwhile. To try to do something so admirable in this unworthy world, indeed. As that tiny ray of light peered through my ever-present cloud, I felt a brief surge of emotion. Once again, I felt a spring in my step as I walked out of the dining room after a meal.

It doesn't take much effort to recognise that there is suffering in the world, even though some people do find happiness and contentment for themselves. However, I've discovered that rather than trying to escape this ubiquitous truth, we can find even more happiness and fulfilment by actively reacting to it with compassion and care.


The term "helper's high" describes the positive emotional state that often follows opportunities to help others, whether through direct acts of kindness, monetary donations, or significant volunteer work. Have you ever felt like you received more out of volunteering than you put in? That's one way the "helper's high" might make you feel. This is a natural progression in the history of our species. When we look out for one another, we are doing our part to preserve the human race.



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