Altruism is “the principle and moral practice of concern for the happiness of other human beings and/or animals, resulting in a quality of life both material and spiritual.” Rather than getting into the weeds of whether someone can truly uphold this mindset, I want you to consider the value of pursuing this practice/belief as a means of personal growth. In a time when we're collectively struggling and need to help each other more than ever, try leaving an imprint in the world around you that leaves your circumstance for the better:
Support. When finding a cause or belief to invest in, people practice altruism through the giving of time, energy, effort and/or money. Start by asking yourself, “What do I value and care about?” When you have an answer, put in an online search engine and see what’s out there that aligns with what you see as worthwhile to care about and connect with them.
Enjoy. When giving your time, energy, effort, and/or money, offer the resources and skills that come naturally to you or you are willing to learn/develop. Altruism can take work, but it should not take so much work that it fosters resentment.
Encourage. As you pursue altruism, a natural product is wanting to tell others about what you are supporting. When that part of you develops, tell others. A quick social media post or quick update with a support over virtual coffee can nurture your altruistic intent while getting the word out with hopes of rallying more support for your cause.
Lou Lim is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.
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