Just as I clicked on the “Submit” button, a thought ran through my mind: does altruism really exist?

I was transferring funds from my bank to the Community Chest, my preferred charitable organisation (a preference years of playing Monopoly developed).

Why am I donating? was all I could think. But I did so anyway.

I couldn’t help shaking off the thought that I could well have been donating for selfish reasons. I was taught that you have to give to receive, and receiving was definitely something I liked.

Was this why I was donating? Or maybe it was because it has become a habit? I used to think about the poor, the sick, the disadvantaged, etc. whenever I donated my money. When I clicked “Submit”, I was essentially, not thinking very much at all.

Do the intentions of a donation matter? Or does what matter lie in the donation itself?

Whatever answer I finally subscribe to, I think I’ll just stick with giving for now. Who knows, I might inadvertently save a life, however indirectly, that may well save other lives in the future.

On Happiness

A passage I thought especially enlightening from the book The Art of Happiness, authored by Howard C. Cutler with the Dalai Lama:

[H]appiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events. Success may result in a temporary feeling of elation, or tragedy may send us into a period of depression, but sooner or later our overall level of happiness tends to migrate back to a certain baseline. Psychologists call this the process of adaptation, and we can see how this principle operates in our everyday life; a pay raise, a new car, or recognition from our peers may life our mood for a while, but we soon return to our customary level of happiness. In the same way, an argument with a friend, a car in the repair shop, or a minor injury may put us in a foul mood, but within a matter of days our spirits rebound.

I have read about this psychological effect before, most commonly on how people who happen upon a sudden windfall — like winning the lottery or an inheritance — tend not to be any happier a year after the windfall than their than they were before they had the money.

If you’re not happy as you are, you won’t be happy even after changing external events. Happiness, if it is important to you, is best done through the changing of internal ways of thinking. Cutler shares some thoughts on how you might go about doing so (also from the same book):

Researchers have conducted a number of experiments demonstrating that one’s level of life satisfaction can be enhanced simply by shifting one’s perspective and contemplating how things could be worse. In one study, women at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee were shown images of the extremely harsh living conditions in Milwaukee at the turn of the century or were asked to visualize and write about going through personal tragedies such as being burned or disfigured. After completing this exercise, the women were asked to rate the quality of their own lives. In another experiment at the State University of New York at Buffalo, subjects were asked to complete the sentence “I’m glad I’m not a…” After five repetitions of this exercise, the subjects experienced a distinct elevation in their feelings of life satisfaction. Another group of subjects was asked by the experimenters to complete the sentence “I wish I were a…” This time, the experiment left the subjects feeling more dissatisfied with their lives.

Invisible Strings of Association

I’m currently reading the book The 11th Element by Robert Allen. 15 pages into the book and I hit a paragraph where the author lists some far-fetched claims of occasions that I may have had experience with the “11th element”:

You’ve tapped in “the invisible network” yourself. Haven’t there been times when you knew something was going to happen before it happened? There have been times when you knew who was calling before you picked up the phone, haven’t there? Perhaps you had the experience of knowing what someone else was thinking or what they were going to say before they said it. You’ve had hunches that proved to be accurate, haven’t you? Where do you think the knowledge in those situations came from?

To be honest, I think that they came from the coincidental meeting of thought and reality. There have been times when I knew something was going to happen before it happened, definitely. But there’s been plenty of other times when I knew something was going to happen and it didn’t. Same goes for knowing the identity of a caller before I even pick up the phone and other so-called premonitions. Sometimes they were accurate, most times they were not.

The only reason they seem so much more common than they really are is because I only remember the times they have been accurate because they are so rare. Novel and rare experiences are generally better remembered than the mundane and common ones.

An IFA Career

A couple of posts back, I wrote about my foray into sales and how I was seriously considering a career as an IFA (or independent financial advisor) representative. The first few days after making the decision were great — I felt that I had at long last settled on what I had wanted to do; but the days after were terrible, as self-doubt crept in and I wondered if it had perhaps made the wrong decision.

Continue reading “An IFA Career”

The Secret Law of Attraction: Fact or Fiction?

I recently came across a video detailing “the secret law of attraction” — secret because people don’t know about it, and a law because it is infallible. In essence, what the law of attraction tells is that we get what we think about most of the time.

Is the law of attraction really that effective? Does it really work? I argue that it can work, but not in the magical sense so many authors would have you believe.

Continue reading “The Secret Law of Attraction: Fact or Fiction?”