Last update: April 27, 2015
"Give a hand" and "fight side by side" are expressions that summarize the ability of the human being to come out of his little one to help others. This conduct, which moves for the moral effort it implies, is called altruism and has become a rare gift in these times when materialism and selfishness are king.
However, who can say they have never experienced that comforting energy that feels when our support eases another person's problems? Recently, science has discovered the neurological basis of this pleasant experience: when we help someone in a selfless way, a part of the brain connected with the sensation of pleasure is activated. Now, the word "disinterested" is the key to this sentence, let's see together why.
All that glitters is not gold
Altruism is desirable from all points of view. Both from a biological perspective, because the collaboration between individuals guarantees the preservation of the species, and from a psychological perspective, since giving and receiving support reduces stress, strengthens self-esteem and emotional bonds and encourages personal fulfillment, both from a point of ethical and spiritual view, because altruism is edifying for us and puts us in contact with transcendence.
Of course, all of this is true, but… Is helping always positive? At first glance it would seem so, but, given the complexity that characterizes human beings, the answer is not so simple.
What makes the difference are the motivations behind selfless behavior. There are many, some more commendable than others. First, there is genuine compassion, which arises when we see someone overworked and decide to offer our selfless help, expecting nothing in return, only desiring the good of the other. In this case there is no "ulterior motive", but that's not always how it works.
Sometimes, surprisingly, people offer their help to feed their ego, eager to receive social recognition and admiration.. Other people do it to get something in return for their help, such as a job promotion; still others to reinforce the feeling of superiority on which they depend or because they do not trust in the ability of others to solve problems on their own. Helping can also be a way to control those around us, consciously or not, making them dependent on the support they receive. False altruism can be coldly calculated to deceive and manipulate others, in the form of a trap or ambush.
Don't help so much, because you might annoy
Curiously, sometimes the help given with good intentions causes exactly the opposite effect and, instead of making life easier for the other, it only manages to interfere with his natural path. This is how help can sometimes deprive you of initiative, as happens with overprotective parents who, to avoid problems and suffering for their children, do for them what they could easily do on their own. However, it is inevitable that sooner or later they will have to face life's challenges alone, for which they will not be prepared as, ironically, they will have received too much help.
When we feel the desire to help it is good that we follow our presentiment, but we must not stop reflecting on the real motivations for this: “What am I looking for doing this? Admiration, control, feeling important? ”,“ Am I giving the fish or the fishing rod? ”,“ Do I get some benefit by helping or am I only interested in making the other happy? ”.
Altruism is a wonderful gesture which, in its pure state, can undoubtedly make the world an exceptional place; nevertheless, let's not forget that a bad time to put it into practice or a bad motivation can make the gesture inappropriate and even harm others. That said, when the doubt between helping or not helping arises, it is worth testing our hearts, without allowing opportunistic intentions to obscure the original beauty of altruism.