Are humans wired for selfishness?
It makes sense in the context of “survival of the fittest” and the idea that we have been genetically predisposed to be competitive against others.
Why do we help others after others show up? Here’s a story that shows part of the human spirit and it’s confusing nature.
I was at my university heading to class. It was pouring rain and had been all day. Everyone seemed soggy and grumpy.
As I walked outside, I saw a young guy in a wheelchair. He was struggling to roll himself up a massive hill. There was a young girl hiding under her umbrella right behind him, strolling along like nothing was going on.
I immediately ran towards both of them, quickly asking the guy where I can take him to. He refused. I continued to try, and convinced him to let me help him. I noticed he had a mental handicap. His iPhone was sitting in his lap, getting completely soaked, along with all of his school work.
As I began to push him, the young girl approaches and asks if she can help. I tell her, it’s okay, I can get him. This is when the revelation struck.
I was 20 meters behind both of them when I first saw him getting rained on. Why didn’t the girl ask to help him then? Why does it take someone else to act first before we want to jump in? Why is it when scenarios happen, we want to join the group, but not lead the pack?
This is a fundamental question that goes back to human nature.
We need leaders. We like for others to take the plunge into the action, then we decide that we can join, maybe when there is less “work” to be done.
Being the first to take action in a situation seems scary for some. What if I were to leave the guy to struggle and continue to get rained on? Would anyone have helped him or would he have continued to inch up the hill?
Sometimes we can all use a little hand. It may happen in the most unexpected situation. The golden rule comes into play here. What if you needed help, in any way, and were left to metaphorically get rained on as people pass you by, like you don’t exist?
After getting him inside, I told him not to be afraid. What happens if we just depend on ourselves, even when we know we are incapable of doing something?
Could we change the outcome of our lives in big ways just by asking for help? I think so.
This is not written to portray myself as a hero, it’s merely a real life experiment that shows part of human nature.
We are afraid to reach out to one other, which doesn’t make any sense; especially when we are in a time of instant connection to one another. Human interaction should be easier than ever, yet we are experiencing higher than normal levels of social anxiety and depression. We must find a balance.
Observe the amount of conversations that happen in your life digitally versus physically.
Reach out to others, write physical letters, hug and shake hands, ask for help, look for others that you can help. It’s these small actions that lead to a total shift in the way you look at things.
You will notice that life starts to work out in your favor. Little things will start to happen. You might find five dollars on the ground, get someone to buy you a free drink, stumble upon a new delicious restuarant. It’s when you open yourself to these possibilities that they will begin to happen.
Opening ourselves up to opportunity is something that’s more successful to us the harder we try.
How do you open yourself up to these experiences?
Let go. Let go of expectations, let go of plans, let go of ideas of how things should turn out and let them happen on their own.
It’s a very liberating feeling to let go of all your expectations; it allows you to be free. It allows you to breathe deeply and enter a meditative state at any given moment. You will be able to find serenity in the most hectic places.
Sitting in the middle of rush hour traffic can become a source of peace. Am I insane? Not at all. The important thing to remember is that we may not be able to eliminate stressful situations from our life, but we can change the way we react to them. Life goes on either way, it’s up to you to choose whether to enjoy it or not.
Start now and don’t worry about what you should be doing. It will come to you. Tune out any other distractions. Televisions, radios and phones haven’t helped my attention span very much.
Once you relax in silence (or with some meditative music) your mind will start to wander. Once again, let it go. At this time you will be able to analyze all of the stressors that are affecting you. It’s almost like a lucid dream in the sense that, you don’t know where the thoughts are coming from, but they are profound.
This thought pattern comes in waves. Sometimes you’ll benefit from it and sometimes you’ll laugh because the whole thing seems silly and your mind shoots a blank.
Over time you will develop a sense of “when it’s time” to do this exercise. For me it’s when I’m faced with a stressful situation, a big decision, or a lack of contenment from everything else I’m doing. I do this letting go exercise as a way to figure out a better option.
Let me know how this story and exercises help you. It’s important to read things multiple times and in sections. I have a strong belief that you benefit from digesting material in chunks, similar to how your brain processes your dreams. Reflect often and you will enable yourself to achieve anything.
Fear and anxiety will be eliminated. Strength and courage will erupt (anger may surface too). Why would anger surface in all of this? To teach you that you need to make a change.
We suppress our anger with alcohol, food and other vices in an attempt to make it disappear. Do this for a lifetime and you can be certain that you’re headed down the wrong path.
Make changes, don’t stay stagnant and simply add vices to your life. These “treatments” are band-aids that will become scars.
The power has been passed to your hands, it’s up to you to make the best of it!