Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.
Scientific experiments have been conducted to see what is more rewarding, gaining some fleeting satisfaction or carrying out an altruistic action.
Curiously, the majority were inclined towards the altruistic action.
This means, in other words, doing something that is solely for my benefit or doing something that benefits someone else. In our present lives, the emphasis tends to be placed on attaining personal pleasure of some kind.
The economy, for lack of other values, has done a lot to ensure that the trend is for consumerism as a transitory form of pleasure.
And that is normally associated with pleasures that focus on yourself: buying something nice, clothes, ornaments, trips, a new car, the latest mobile phone, special food, over-the-top celebrations, superficial relationships, etc.
All the above, fit within the definition of egocentric.
I do something because of the excitement and satisfaction it produces in me.
The downside is that this type of pleasure does not last long and this impels us to become hooked on something new.
We see this at every turn, in our families, our friendships or work colleagues. This does not just happen at a personal level, but also with governments, countries and large businesses.
I wonder, then, why we do it if the response about what makes us feel better, inclines us towards altruistic actions, focussed on benefitting other people.
What do you think?
We are used to the idea that you can only be happy when nice things happen and we repeat those things that make us feel good over and over again. Another aspect of this little deception is that we make our happiness dependent on external things. We are so unaware. That is what is available. But is it possible that there are other things? Well, yes. I believe that above all, we need to form a serious intent to cultivate sensibility towards ourselves. I mean, paying attention to what motivates our every moment, not philosophising in general. At the moment in which I judge whether or not to do something. Then I need to observe what is happening, what drives me, if it is pleasure, if it is fear, if it is boredom through being alone with myself…When you let yourself see and feel all of this, with affection and without wanting to be number one at anything you start to develop the sensibility that enables you to take different decisions, some altruistic, without fear. Without fear of being deceived, criticised, being the butt of jokes, etc.
Not being aware of ourselves makes us insensitive towards others, but also towards ourselves. Lack of awareness, insensitivity and fear go hand in hand. And, as I understand it, the one that rules is fear.