As I continue to assess my 2014 resolutions, I have a growing concern that they are too self-centered. Reading a certain number of books and completing a number of classes are resolutions related to life-long learning. Improving my fitness level to live an active lifestyle in my later years is the motivation behind the exercise resolution. Building things and brainstorming entrepreneurial opportunities are intended to improve my creativity. This last category may be selfless if geared toward helping others, but I have not approached the resolution in this manner.
More emphasis on selfless and altruistic goals is needed. Unfortunately, knowing where to start is difficult. The easiest and most obvious solution is to give money to charities yet I am reluctant to do this. Departing with the money is not the problem – it’s the fact that giving money is effortless. It seems that helping others should require some minimal amount of effort and consideration. For example, how do you effectively help others without being demeaning or potentially harmful, that is, causing the recipient to become more dependent on charity? How can you maximize the return on charitable giving of money or time? Are there metrics to track the effectiveness of a particular activity?
Remember that old proverb about giving versus teaching:
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Both giving and teaching are altruistic but teaching has much more value for the recipient over time. A judicious and well-reasoned approach to charity can help ensure future activities have the greatest impact possible.
I’ve been dwelling on the uncertainty of how to proceed for several months. For September, I want to formulate a plan and start taking practical steps in the right direction, rather than continue wallowing in this uncertainty as I have in the past.
For my first step, as a geek, I intend to find some books that relate to these issues. Here are a few relevant books that look interesting and have been added to my to-read list:
- Living High and Letting Die by Peter Unger
- The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness by Oren Harman
- Born for Love by Bruce Perry
- Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
- Toxic Charity: How the Church Hurts Those They Help and How to Reverse It by Robert Lupton
The hope is this initial research will provide a roadmap of how to proceed. This WordPress site is intended to be both a repository of ideas and a means to hold myself accountable by tracking my progress. For whatever weird psychological reason, I am more likely to accomplish a goal if I write it down, particularly on this site, as has been illustrated with this year’s resolutions. I will be careful not to disclose too much of what I am doing, especially as I don’t want to broadcast my good deeds. Fortunately, I can’t remember the last time I had a visitor to my site, so that shouldn’t be much of a concern.