Being more selfish by practicing Effective Altruism

It’s a basic rule of economics that money is less valuable to you the more you have of it.

It’s the end of the year and it’s the season of giving.

It’s a fact that giving is the most selfish thing you can do.

Hence the amazing benefits you can derive from giving it away properly.

Always be giving – not only at the end of the year.

And don’t keep score.

My grandmother always kept track. “Twenty years ago he didn’t go to my grandson’s birthday party so we shouldn’t go to his cousin’s wedding.”

Once you keep score, you lose.

Life is long. Life is hard.

If you keep score, it’s another weight on you. Just give when you can. Else the score will go against you anyway.

Money is not good or bad per se, but money is certainly a positive force when we donate it to worthy causes. What are the best worthy causes? Check out the key messages of the book “Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference” to find the answer.

Donating some of your money is a classic win/win situation. We achieve something worthwhile in the world but we also feel warm and fuzzy about ourselves.

So, when given the chance, opt to be a giver. We don’t always get chances and often it is too late to practice this muscle. But we can always create chances at sheer will.

Striving for happiness lately?

Then it is essential to cultivate altruism. Being altruistic not only helps us to benefit others, but it is also the most satisfying way to live. Being kind to others means being kind to yourself.

It’s not altruistic to be an altruist – just wise.

And in case you are very satisfied with your present life (congratulations!) would you mind at all to appear a bit more attractive to the opposite sex?

Over to you now.

Real egoists share!

After all, we often know what to do but we don’t do what we know.

Give for selfish reasons


Modern neurobiology research suggests that altruistic and less egotistical behavior pays off for everyone. The more strongly people believe that other people also act altruistically, the more likely they are to act that way themselves. Altruism simply makes us happier!  – Dalai Lama


  1. Hi Andy,

    Haha. Your grandma’s behavior is replicated differently by the Chinese. “He invited us to his wedding dinner. When our turn comes, we must invite him back!” Some Chinese view invitations to wedding dinners as a fine because of the ang-pau, particularly if the relationship is not close. You fine me, I fine you back. This Chinese New Year your ang-pao shrink, next year mine will shrink likewise.

    Since your post is about selfishness, it makes it so much easier for me to comment since I am a selfish person at heart. Good thing about me is I am not hypocritical about it.

    My number one favorite charity as a selfish person is buying term insurance. The lucky subsidizes the unlucky. Lucky are those who do not need to make claims because nothing unfortunate happened. The unlucky ones are those who met with some unfortunate accidents or down with serious health issues but were saved by the insurance claims. Without “charity” from the lucky ones, the unlucky will have to absorb the full financial cost of their bad luck. Nobody starting out in life will know how their luck will turn out later in life. So, I try to be selfishly charitable by donating to “charity” to help the unlucky ones in case I turn out to be among the unlucky ones.

    My second favorite charity as a selfish person is investing in the shares of great companies which make plenty of money and create a lots of social good along the way. If the “charity” turns out poorly and I lose all my money, fine. It is charity anyway. If the “charity” turns out wonderfully well, it is charity at its best. The “charity” makes money. The employees make money. Suppliers make money. The customers are happy to pay money because the value provided by the product/service is worth more than the money paid. Most importantly, I make money 🙂 Being charitable is good, particularly when it yields benefits to selfish people like me 🙂

    Writing these comments gave me the inspiration to write a blog post about it:)

    • Hi Hyom,
      Actually, my post was meant to be more about Effective Altruism than selfishness. It is just that we humans are all innately selfish (that’s the main reason we survived till now), but we are not yet innately altruistic. That’s why I wanted to build a bridge so that all of us selfish beings do see the selfish benefit of being more altruistic.

      Interesting perspective you are sharing there. There are always two sides to a coin and very often it is a win-win. Good for us = good for others.
      Read your blog post: I keep my fingers crossed that you quickly reach that 0.02% threshold of Mr. Gates’ / Mr. Buffett’s net worth. Wow, that’s about 16’0 USD if my calculator got it right. Why do you need so much before you can start to be more generous and donate to “real traditional charitable causes”? Wouldn’t 2’0 USD be ample enough to get started with giving? Hurry up. Remember the French Revolution!

      • Hi Andy,

        I didn’t realize 0.02% is around USD16m. Oh dear, that makes me really a greedy selfish bastard. I have changed it to 0.00X%. More achievable so that I don’t remain selfish forever till the day I die. That is not a formula to be happy.

        Haha. The ultra-rich should read about the French Revolution. The images of rich heads on the pike or rich half-bodies on the guillotine will drive them to do good to improve the wealth inequity today, out of enlightened selfishness. Better let them (poor) eat cake early before it’s too late.

  2. Andy,

    Hey! I recognise your grandma’s behaviour!


    Very prevalent in Asian families!!!

    It’s good to be a bit grey in life, and be a bit selfish to ourselves 😉

    Now that’s not what they taught us in school!

    (We must be confusing those who see things in black and white and have no sense of humour)

    • Even if it may seem selfish at first it ends up to be a win-win. So why not do something for yourself and help others at the same time.

      It’s a proven fact that we do experience longer-lasting improvements in mood from kindness and gratitude activities (‘count your blessings’ and ‘give happily’) than from those in which we indulge in luxuries and ourselves.

      If we do not take care of our own well-being, who else will? The one starting with ‘g’ and ending with ‘ment’? Let’s not fool ourselves.

      Sense of humour? I am German! And this post is dead serious! Without effective altruism more will end up dead before they even had a chance to enjoy life a bit.

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