Altruism, Ultimate Happiness and Boundaries 

Altruism is defined by Merriam Webster as an unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others. But this definition is not complete for me. I like the definition that the Dalai Lama offers.

“Altruism has two aspects. Loving others does not mean that we should forget ourselves. When I say that we should be compassionate, this does not mean helping others at the expense of ourselves. Not at all. Sometimes I say that the [God/Source/Buddhas] are the most selfish of all. Why? Because by cultivating altruism they achieve ultimate happiness.

We, in our selfishness, are very foolish and narrow-minded. All we do is create more suffering for ourselves. The selfishness of the [God/Source/Buddhas] is functional and efficient (regarding altruistic behavior). It allows them not only to achieve awakening, but also the capacity to help others. That is really worthwhile. For me, this proves that to create maximum happiness for oneself, one needs to develop compassion, this is Buddhist logic. If compassion induced misery, then it would be questionable. Why practice something that brings us more trouble? But that is certainly not the case with compassion.

Just imagine if we all lived with NO compassion, thinking only of ourselves. We would suffer greatly. The more you think of others, the happier you are.” Dalai Lama

We must not forget ourselves in cultivating altruistic behavior. In our compassion and assisting others we are still allowed to set boundaries and allow or disallow how we are treated. Our compassion can and does exist separate from behavior we allow as acceptable from others.

For example, I was in a situation with a co-worker recently and I was altruistically offering my time, assistance and ear on a personal level when the co-worker’s behavior turned provocative and unacceptable to me. I was not judging him; however, in discernment of the situation it made me uncomfortable thus unacceptable. In a firm manner, I set the boundary that the behavior was not appropriate and recognize that his desire of my time and attention had ulterior motives. With this new understanding I was able to back away from a desire to help him without guilt. Yes, I still have unconditional love for him as Soul learning his own lessons in life. I have no anger or judgment; however, nor will I place myself in a situation where I assist him again. That is the balance.

Altruism is a key to developing happiness; however, it must be done with just as much love, care and concern for self and boundaries as we offer others. Then giving freely of self is a beautiful experience. Again in the words of the Dalai Lama “Loving others does not mean that we should forget ourselves.” Altruism should not create negative circumstance.

Wishing you ultimate happiness via cultivating altruism full of self love!

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