First posted to: https://surehopecounseling.com/positive-psychology-altruism/
As the year comes to a close it is amazing to see how during this time of the year traits of altruism tend to increase more than any other time of the year. It is a time to celebrate the greatest gift, the birth of Christ, and to model the selfless life Christ modelled for us all. Whether you are a Christian or not, the research within positive psychology points to the importance of living an altruistic life.
Positive Psychology: Altruism
SureHope Counseling & Training Center has spent this year highlighting the research of positive psychology, looking at it through the lens of scripture and seeing what it can teach us. When studying one of the topics within positive psychology, altruism, we see that implementing this as a lifestyle has many benefits to our overall physical and mental wellbeing. Altruism focuses on another person/group’s wellbeing. Research has shown that altruism is correlated with greater happiness, well-being, health and greater longevity. The only caveat is that the person does not become overwhelmed by the altruistic acts. There is also research that points to individuals who are more altruistic having healthier romantic relationships.
As we look at the topic of altruism in spirituality, we see that scripture is clear that those that believe in Christ are to look after the poor, the widows and orphans (i.e. Deuteronomy 26:12; Psalm 68:5). We see a very clear definition of altruism and a way of living life in Philippians 2:3-4:
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Scripture also makes it clear that the way these acts are conducted (the heart behind them) is very important):
7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 KJV
Lastly, scripture highlights that the good works we are to live out are part of our purpose and glorify Christ:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 KJV
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 KJV
Practical Application of Altruism
We can see throughout research in positive psychology and throughout scripture that living in an altruistic way is beneficial to the individual and brings purpose to life. With all the many benefits, how does one start to practice altruism as daily traits/actions?
Here are a few ideas:
*Place in your Self-Care Plan the focus on altruism
*Place in your Spiritual Discipline Care Plan a focus on altruism
*Explore how this trait was (or was not) shown in your family
*Be mindful of the pitfalls of ungodly altruism (i.e. people pleasing, personal gain, “climbing the corporate ladder”)
*What is your greatest memory of altruism to you?
*What is your greatest memory of altruism you did?
*Fostering altruism in your everyday life
*Always have a bag ready to place items in it to donate
*Practicing the 5 love languages
*Looking for ways to celebrate life and others
*Playful attitude to life by having more freedom in love and giving
As this year ends, we hope you have enjoyed the concentration 2023 has brought on Positive Psychology and what scripture has to say about these topics.
We hope you are able to have a very blessed Christmas and New Year and are inspired above all by the life of Christ!
-Kelly Saylor – learn more about working with Kelly here!