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can you think of a 'selfless' act?


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I've always questioned the possibility of anything ever being 'selfless.' Whether it's your parents, friends, spouses, etc. things like unconditional love or support are all done for certain purposes and nothing can ever be done out of true selflessness. Parents who give unconditional love to their children do so in order to make sure their children grow into well-rounded individuals capable of love, which gives the parents satisfaction later on.

 

Whatever action anyone takes, it ultimately serves the desire of the person conducting that act. Any thoughts? Can you think of any act being 'selfless'?

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I guess under your logic giving your one and only life to save another is a selfish act. I think you need to meet and talk to a Medal of Honor winner to understand what selfless love represents. I met Col. Millet, a Korean war hero, and he was willing to die for his fellow men butby some devine stroke of luck he managed to survive. Then take a look at the Miracle on the Hudson pilot that saved many lives by committing to a sound rescue plan of a damaged plane. Better yet, how about Todd Beamer and company that fought the terrorist on 9/11 on the doomed United flight. These, to me, are what selflessness is all about and I can only hope that one percent of us can perform so well under those circumstances.

 

BTW, this is more of an "Off Topic" forum subject then askng for health advice.

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keeping it a little more light-hearted:

i play an online game LOTRO. I regularly perform genuinely selfless acts every weekend by crafting items and send them to random people (via mail) who are online at the time. Things which might help them one day.

 

Now all that's great - I did it without wanting anything in return - but (un?)fortunately I've got a reputation for it now (altruistic etc) and it's soured it a little to be honest because people treat me differently (/nicer).

 

So maybe that's not so selfless because I have received more in return? We always end up getting something, even if it's a good feeling -- so doesn't that make it not selfless for that reason?

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I think a selfless act is doing something you really really REALLY dont want to do because its for the best for the other person. I mean something that you would never get satisfaction out of later. For example letting someone you love go because you dont make them happy enough.

 

My mum and dad have recently separated and it was all her decision. He has not argued once and tells me he will always love her and doesnt want her to leave. Hes really quite upset about it and he pretends not to be. I can see what this has done to him, yet all weekend he helped her move house, changed her locks for her, did her grocery shopping and full on supported her anyway. That to me is unconditional love.

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I don't think there's any such thing as a 100% selfless act. I think it's possible to be very selfless and do nice things for others, even things you don't want to do, but even then you have the knowledge that others will think better of you for doing so, which gives people satisfaction.

 

Something could only be almost completely selfless if you did something without anyone knowing and no one ever finding out. And even then... you'd still have the satisfaction of having done something good.

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I love doing random acts of kindness. Just little things, like paying for the person behind me at the drive-through window, or giving away some ride tickets to a sad-looking kid at the fair. But since I get pleasure from it, I suppose that doesn't count as selfless?

 

There's a lot of volunteering going on in the U.S. and the world. What about the doctors who volunteer for Project Smile, giving their time for free? People who donate to food shelves or volunteer at soup kitchens? Those who minister to the dying? Donate blood?

 

You can argue that they get satisfaction out of it, but they also sacrifice their own time, money, etc., when they could just stay home and ignore the plight of strangers.

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i was with my ex when this happened:

 

we were talking in my car after dinner, and were just about to start and drive off. But then heard a loud bang! A car crash had just happened - told my ex to stay put, and i ran out to help the occupants of both the cars (2 other guys were ran to help too). Oil/coolant all that everywehre, but we went to help. Thats selfless. There were about 100+ people standing on the corners just looking, pointing and talking - thats selfish.

 

my ex was saying that what i did was very noble - that i didnt mind my own safety and went to help. I told her i did what anyone else would do - she said "no one else would do that, not even me"

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The truth is that the term 'selfless' is very relative and really not defined precisely (not much in language is). Obviously humans evolved to be altruistic instinctively being surrounded by family members (similar genetic code) those with altruistic instincts were more likely to pass on their genetic code by helping those around them (helping eachother). As the human population exploded, people became surrounded by humans that were not in direct family lines, and while cooperation and altruism helps carry on the species the instinct obviously cannot differentiate very well between similar genetic code and dissimilar genetic code. The instinct is simply to make us altruistic. So in the end I am saying that we are hard wired to gain pleasure or whatever you want to call instinctual gratification, if not anything else from altruistic acts.

 

In reality this should just redefine selfless acts not indicate that none exist, but that is really a matter of semantics and not so much an agreed upon concept.

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There's certainly a school of thought that contends that true altruism doesn't exist on any level. Someone mentioned war heroes on this thread. Who wouldn't want to be referred to as a "hero"? In that case, there are people that would be willing to put themselves in harms way simply because achieving the status of "war hero" is the end game for them. So, you could say, "this person unselfishly saved the lives of his entire platoon", or you could say, "this person saw an opportunity to become a war hero and, selfishly, he took it."

 

Obviously, I'm not using selfish in a derogatory way here. Everyone needs to be selfish, it's healthy to be selfish, and I'd go so far as to argue that unselfish people would have to be close to worthless to this world if offered in the context above.

 

Let's say someone gives an anonymous donation to a charity. If it's truly anonymous then no one knows about it. Sure, perhaps that the institution is unaware, but if you tell a friend, a spouse, a family member, then is it still truly anonymous? After all, you are satisfying your ego by letting someone close to you know that "I'm a freaking saint. I donate anonymously to a charity. This is a measure of how wonderful I am."

 

But what if you don't even tell a single soul about your donation? Is this finally true altruism? Not really. You know in your heart of hearts that you've done some terrific deed for humankind, and you can walk around this world telling yourself that you are better then the average Joe. In fact, you are sooooooo much better that you wouldn't even tell a close friend, family member, or spouse about your good deed in order not to draw attention to yourself.

 

In fact, there is no reason not to tell a friend or family member unless you were specifically not doing so in order to reach some pinnacle of altruism. Basically, your ego is always involved when it comes to acts of kindness. And again, it should be. Be glad that that's true. Be glad that people are selfish enough to be utilitarians, and that they have egos that need fed in this way.

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I would like to think that my ego isn't always involved when I do things for others. I don't tell others of the "selfless acts" that I do, unless prompted to do so, because I would feel like a braggart. Yes, in my mind I know that I do these things for people, but it's not fulfilling. I still know of the wrong that I have done and that I will do. When I do things for others it's not because someone is watching, or to make me feel better about myself, and so on, it's because I feel like it's the right thing to do. That's how I was brought up...you help others when you're able to.

 

Currently I'm a volunteer firefighter, with hopes of landing a department job. I don't want to do this out of pure self satisfaction. I want to because of the morals my family instilled in me, cause it's the right thing to do. I never want to be referred to as a "hero", and I've never felt like one. Actually, I take that back. The only person who has made me feel somewhat like a hero for doing what I do is my younger cousin, and that's only because he looks up to me. The true heroes never get to come home at the end of the day.

 

So when it comes down to it, I do what I do because of my morals. Not to feed my ego or to feel better about myself. It doesn't make me any better than anyone else. I sin. You sin. We all sin. Or for the irreligious: we all do wrong.

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In my opinion, everything is connected.

 

If I were to take a bullet for a friend, you could easily argue that that was a selfish act. How many times does a person get the opportunity to be immortalized. You could also argue that I would suffer greatly if I survived and my best friend was killed. So, I took the bullet for them so that they may be the one that suffered.

 

Everything is connected. You can't do a good deed without getting good back. Even if that good is just knowing that you've done something good.

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A selfless act that we have done?

 

Last week I was driving home in traffic and there was this guy weaving in and out of traffic. Im not the best driver but you could tell he was on some sort of drug. Well he hit the back of this poor kids car and shredded his bumper. They got out...looked at it...got back in their car and drove off. The poor kid was running after them and everything. I saw ALL of this and there was a cop riding right next to me. I got her attention and told her the guy (who was two cars behind her) hit someone and ran. I felt good for helpin that poor kid. Does this count?

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