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Altruism: Track Your Impact On The World

Altruism has blown my mind and wrinkled my brain on every page.  The insights flow fast and furious in this book.  It becomes difficult to read, because I have to pause every few minutes just to absorb the brilliant insights.

I use the Kindle version, which allows me to highlight specific sections of text to review later. It’s all I can do to keep myself from highlighting the entire book.  This is one of those rare books that completely changes my worldview.

Digesting a book like this takes a huge amount of trust in the author.  I’m taking Mathieu’s word for it, that his view of the world is accurate and the altruistic way of living is infinitely superior to any alternative.  I take his word for it just enough to put it into practice in my own life.  That’s where the rubber meets the road.

Altruism In Daily Life

I’ve noticed myself already behaving more altruistically on days I read this book.  I judge people less, and when I do it becomes more noticeable.  Small, selfish behaviors that used to slip under the radar are now highlighted.  I’m calmer when driving in traffic and don’t react as strongly as I used to.  I wish people well in my mind, even random strangers I only notice in passing.  I try to replace judgmental thoughts with loving ones.

This book has opened my eyes to the cultural indoctrination into individualism I’ve received.  Most of it was done by my own choice of books to read.  I’m committed to changing my whole thinking, behavior and worldview to become more altruistic and less self-centered.

We are not as independent as we like to think.  Humans are interdependent creatures.  Look around you.  Everything in your environment was designed, built and transported by countless people just ‘doing their jobs’.  They did their part, and you now benefit from that collective effort.  The question is, how does your work impact others downstream from you?  What impact do you have on your community and circle of influence?

Two Ways To Measure Impact

If you’re anything like me, the answer seems to be ‘not much’.  Awareness is the first step towards solving that problem.  We can all have a more significant impact each day than we did the day before.  There are two ways to measure the increased impact you have on the world:  Scope and Magnitude.

Magnitude means having a more powerful impact on each person.  Instead of just walking by someone on the street, make eye contact and smile.  Put more effort into your relationships, and be more conscious of how you show up in the world.  This is the easier element to increase, because we still do the same things – just more powerfully.

Scope means increasing the number of lives you impact positively.  One way could be volunteering at a soup kitchen, or starting a support group.  On the other hand, the internet allows us to magnify the scope of our impact infinitely.  By interacting positively online, or even creating useful content for others, we can exponentially increase the number of people our lives impact.

These are difficult to track quantitatively, but powerful ideas to keep in mind on a daily basis.  Each evening, ask yourself ‘How did I increase the scope or magnitude of my impact today?’.  It could be as simple as showing kindness to a stranger, or sharing an encouraging social media post.  We all have the capacity to impact the world more positively today.  And the world needs that now, more than ever before.

Joel Smith

Author and writing coach at The Fit Writer.

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