Sometimes when I volunteer or give back to my community, I am struck with the possibility that what I’m doing is somewhat selfish.
This sounds very odd I’m sure, considering the very definition of volunteering or donating requires selflessness. But I sometimes find it a little selfish simply because of how good it makes me feel. I find myself wondering if that is the only reason why I do it: to gain a small sense of altruism and kindness.
In truth, I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with that. I’ve never felt particularly bad after doing something for someone else, even if it is a little bit on a self-serving level.
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I always feel an even stronger urge to help people around this time due to the abundance of food and family members I am surrounded by. As a result, I become especially aware of the privilege that I take for granted.
In a sense, my desire to volunteer around this time might be partly guilt-based but it still gets the job done. Volunteering is something I can do that makes me feel better after a long day. It helps me to put my problems into context and realize that they are not as bad as I believe them to be. Helping people can also be a brilliant distraction; it helps to remind you that it is not your little world and that your actions can have an even larger impact than you realize.
So, go ahead, be a little selfish. If changing the world a little bit makes you feel better, it sounds like a pretty good idea to me.