Jay Shirley

Striving to be a man of gallantry and taste

Altruism at Work

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I wish for you to be happy.

Let that settle in for a moment, and then I’ll explain.

I’m not going to make you happy, but I wish for your happiness. I sincerely hope everybody I encounter is happy. Most of the time, anyway. Sometimes people are jerks. I’m still working on wishing the jerks to be happy.

It took me a long time in my life to feel this way. Outside of the basic idea, I struggled with the Why? for years. These are not people who care about me. Why should I care about them?

What I found is that, in a nutshell, it makes me happy.

Altruism is a funny thing, and it’s absolutely required for the survival of our species. We are a herd species. Perhaps tribal is a better word. We must give in to a higher purpose than our simple, fragile selves.

For me, that higher purpose is merely the feeling of leaving the world better than I found it. I don’t crave many friends or a large audience. I crave happiness and peace. The golden rule taught me everything I needed to know about what I want to feel.

If I wish others to be happy, it makes me happy. It doesn’t mean my happiness is their responsibility, any more than it is my responsibility to ensure others’ happiness. It gives me permission to be happy. It changes my mindset into one in which every person, without exception, can be happy.

There is no scarcity of happiness, we only have to pluck it from the tree.

On the subject of things easier said than doneā€¦

I’m very fortunate to have met some really astounding people over the last 10 years. First, I met my wife. She continues to inspire and push me. She never would let me settle. But meeting her was a fluke. I wasn’t in a good place in my life.

From the time my first child was born until now, I’ve had an amazing series of events in my life that have pushed me to where I am at now. It took these events to allow me to feel ready to embrace altruism as a core principle of my being. I immediately worked to remove those things that weren’t beneficial from my life.

It’s impossible to feel connected with others when you are surrounded by toxic people. Instead, surround yourself with people that is easy to wish them happiness. It’s a simple test, and if you don’t truly, sincerely find it easy to wish them happiness, reduce the time and energy you devote to them.

Pretty soon, the people left will be wonderful people. They will be people who hoist you up, make you feel energized and awesome. After this, it’s significantly easier to expand the well-wishing outwards.