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Selflessness: Why Good Deeds Pay Off

It was Adam Smith, the moral philosopher and founder of modern economics, who did the Invisible Hand Theory He thought: Even if everyone only pursues their own self-interest, in the end it will be for the benefit of all. In principle, this is still true today. But it is also correct that there is ethics and even selflessness Pay off in moderation: All too obvious egoism leads to isolation and professional disruption. The reference to invisible hands doesn't help either: The reckless elbow type appears to others neither trustworthy nor cooperative. However, both are important prerequisites for long-term cooperation. Even the Florentine power strategist Niccolò Machiavelli, better known as a representative of callous power strategies, demanded unusually sweetly: A prince must appear and be mild, righteous, sincere, and godly. We show why selflessness pays ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Selflessness: what is it actually?

It's a strong word: selflessness. Everyone knows it, but most of them rarely use it. One reason for this is that true selflessness rarely is to be found. Far too often people are only concerned with their own benefit, they make decisions that they hope will come from for themselves and even things that seem to go in favor of others often have one or the other ulterior motive.

With this rarity of a property, the question quickly arises: What is selflessness anyway?

The answer to that is actually quite simple. It means taking back yourself, his To ignore your own goals and wishes for once and to put the benefit of other people in the foreground in one's own actions.

This simple definition of selflessness is anything but easy to implement in practice. Constant competition, comparisons with others, envy and a lack of gratitude determine the thinking of many people. The main thing is that you get what you are entitled to - or, better still, a little more.

How the others are doing is - if at all - only of secondary importance. A sheer limitless self-centerednessthat reveals itself again and again in everyday life. Nobody treats the other to anything, instead everyone feels treated equally unfairly. If anything, selflessness is only faked.

But what exactly characterizes a truly selfless act? These three criteria are essential:

  • It's not about your own use or advantage.
  • There are no ulterior motives.
  • It is acted out of its own accord.

A beautiful and heartbreaking example of selflessness caused a stir on social networks some time ago: a father in a complete business outfit including a briefcase in his left hand is walking with his little son through the pouring rain. His clothes are completely soaked from the rain, but in his right hand he is holding an umbrella over his child, who is walking next to him so dry and apparently in a good mood.

Selflessness? Nobody is always selfless

It is not possible to act exclusively altruistically over the long term. For one is Egotism in moderation is necessaryto think about yourself and avoid the danger of being constantly exploited by those around you. On the other hand would ceaseless selflessness becomes a contradiction Lead: This is how selfless actions - even if they were initially well-intentioned - become a problem when the entire self-image is based on selflessness.

Selflessness must therefore not have the purpose of pleasing others or polishing up one's self-esteem. This can be a side effect, but it is allowed are not in the foreground of the plotas it would destroy the whole concept of seemingly selfless action.

It also depends on several points whether we are willing to let our own needs rest for the well-being of another person.

  • Relationship. The closer we are to a person, the easier it is to behave selflessly. It is much easier to do something for a family member or a good friend than for someone completely new. The more you have to sacrifice yourself to help the other, the greater this hurdle.
  • Self-confidence. Only those who trust themselves at all to help another person can also act selflessly. In other words, if you don't think you can make a difference through your actions, you probably won't even try.
  • Empathy.Empathy is an important key to selflessness. It is necessary to recognize the desires of another person and to rate them at the moment more important than your own needs.

The prerequisites can also influence how selflessly a person acts. Those who have a lot at their own disposal can more easily give some of it to others. This can be money that is shared with others through donations or gifts, but also free time that is used to help others.

In short, the more of the resource that is selflessly shared, the easier it is to act selflessly. This does not mean that without these conditions selflessness is impossible. On the contrary, actually. Those who have little and are still willing to give something away act much more selflessly and touches his fellow human beings even more.

The selfless act pays off

That the selfless act pays off is scientifically guaranteed. The technical term for this is reciprocal altruism - also known as: Tit for tat.

The US economist Vernon Smith solved the question in game theory in the 1960s and received the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2002:

In his experiment, the test subjects were able to pay money into a community fund and thus increase it, and the profit was then paid out equally to everyone. However, the participants had the choice between two strategies:

  • cooperate and deposit or
  • do not deposit and still benefit.

The experiment showed that if everyone took part, they achieved the highest profit. The highest individual profit was of course for selfish things Parasites.

What happened?

At the beginning four-fifths played fair, the rest took with them. The honest ones were the stupid ones and soon became selfish. Effect: The profit melted with every round and finally reached its lowest point. How's the mood.

Only as the teammates Free riders could punish, the result improved. So the sanctions took care of that Common good. The effect today is comparable to the dealer feedback on the online auction house Ebay: only those who are fair and are appropriately reputed can continue to do good business.

The findings of the two Smiths are a plea for Moral courage and opportunity: man is inherently bad. Wherever he can, he frees himself up. It's bad for everyone.

As soon as this is sanctioned appropriately, however, he develops countless virtues, becomes decent, sometimes even selfless.

The invisible hand, it also works like one invisible slap in the face. Those who internalize the lesson beforehand, however, live more painlessly. Then it pays off selflessness twice from ...

Selflessness Quotes: The best sayings on the subject

  • The selfless finds without looking what the zealot seeks without finding it.Kurt Haberstich
  • To a certain extent one should be selfless out of selfishness.Marie Freifrau von Ebner-Eschenbach
  • The ideal person feels joy when he can serve others.Aristotle
  • Those who help others must not forget themselves; whoever lifts others up must not fall.Gregory I the Great
  • If you do something for someone else, you shouldn't pretend or become complacent. It should not be about rewards, just one thing: the happiness of the other is his whole passion.Dalai Lama
  • The more you do for others, the more you have. The more you give to others, the more you have.Laotse
  • Selfishness speaks all languages ​​and plays all roles, even selflessness.François VI. Duke de La Rochefoucauld

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