Lately I’ve been questioning myself a lot. I want to do nice things. It’s important to continually work towards doing nice things. I want to invest my life to helping people, that’s nice. But why? What is my reason? Why am I choosing to do these things, as oppose to trying to making a lot of money or gain notoriety in some way? Aspirations in which people find typical and understandable.
Now, I wouldn’t exactly say I’m nice because I’m not. I tend to think I’m quite inconsiderate. Many people have accused me of being sort of cold and sometimes an all out bitch. That’s the antithesis of nice. Short story - since 6th grade, I’ve known this girl, Linh. She is super nice. We’ve known each other for so long and I keep in touch with her every now and then and I can honestly say she is the nicest (and funniest) person I’ve ever met. Never has there been a time when I thought she was arrogant or selfish. And I mean if you think about it, I’ve known her for almost 12 years now. That’s impressive.
Setting the bar for niceness there, I’m nowhere close to that. I did a nice act this week, a minor thing but I thought it was nice. Then I stopped and questioned why I had done it. I worry that people think I’m trying to be impressive and that was not the case, not my intention. When I do nice things, it’s a natural reaction for me to do those things. I just thought it was the right thing to do. At other times, I’ll do careless things, inadvertently hurting those around me and be absolutely unaware of it.
Here’s the philosophical babble. I think altruism - true, deeply-rooted, consistent form of altruistic acts - conflicts with the Self. As a Self, you’re concerned with your best interests, how to advance yourself. So no matter how much you try to do nice things, at its root, you’re only trying to do what is best for yourself. It makes me question whether anything I do or anything anyone does is true. What’s in an act of kindness really?
The way to escape this perplexing notion is to find comfort in the idea that the judgements of one’s actions is based on the observer. It is ultimately the surrounding gawkers or the receivers of kindness who judge your selfless act. If they assess your intentions as being altruistic, then it is. Because altruism, in its key sense, is not up to the individual to judge anyways. You do nice things and if someone thinks it’s nice, then great. If they don’t, then eh what can you do? The perception of it is not yours to shape and it should not be a concern.