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Giving For Yourself, Giving For Others

October 16th, 2011
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When you engage in charity, there are two benefits: you get a warm feeling inside and the people you help have their lives improved. The confounding thing is, different charitable options have different amounts of these benefits. Giving money (or a sandwich) to someone on the street asking for food gives quite a bit of the former, but much less of the latter. Donating to an international charity has very little of the former, but a lot of the latter. Both are important. If the people around you have lost their homes, you will probably be compelled to help them. This is human. We help those around us. We need to do this in order not to deplete our inner warmth. The tricky thing is, doing things for the warm fuzzy feeling is doing things for yourself. It's a very positive kind of selfishness. Real altruism is doing what does the most good, regardless of how it makes you feel. And we need this too. We need a lot of it.

(I originally wrote this as a comment on yesterday's post)

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