Some people have an idea of giving that is not sustainable.
You can’t self-sacrifice endlessly to help others. You also have to take care of yourself.
Giving can be a win/win situation.
In fact, it should be.
Helping the world is only worth it if you are also helping yourself.
For this 5-Minute Friday, I revisited a conversation I had with Will Macaskill where he shared this idea as one of his principles of effective altruism.
William MacAskill is a philosopher, ethicist, and one of the originators of the effective altruism movement. He is an Associate Professor in Philosophy and Research Fellow at the Global Priorities Institute, University of Oxford. He is also the co-founder and president of 80,000 Hours, the co-founder and vice-president of Giving What We Can, and the co-founder of the Centre for Effective Altruism.
Learn how to help others in the most meaningful way in Episode 780.
Lewis: This is 5-Minute Friday!!
So let’s go back to the book, what are these?
Will: These are core principles of effective alterism.
Lewis: 4 or 5 core principles?
Will: That’s right, so I lay it out like the style of thinking but effect about those taken in terms of, kind of 5 key questions that you can ask. The first one is for any action think about how many people benefit by this action and by how much? And that turns people to think about like the outcomes of producing by an action. So like an example of this is when people think about charitable efficiency they often look for overhead cost, how much the charity is spending on administration versus how much it is spending on the program. But this is just totally misguided because if you got a really lousy charity which is working on some lousy program, it’s like giving away donuts or something. Then it’s just like no matter how low your overheads are it’s still not going to be effective.
Will: And in contest maybe you need to have high overhead so you can actually be sure that your program is really being well implemented or choosing the most effective program.
Lewis: At some point if you want to have a great leader of a charity your gonna have to pay them and you don’t want to underpay them to have them thinking about how they can survive themselves when they’re making such a big impact in the world they want to be paid for their time I’m assuming, right?
Will: Yeah, that’s exactly right. So if you as a charity can hire/pay your CEO higher salary to a CEO so you can get better talent and therefore doing more good for your charity.
Lewis: You double the donation and cost of it.
Will: That is right then you just have a moral obligation to do that and it’s a bit of a shame that we have this often [?], where the focus is on self-sacrifice rather than just how much of an outcome it is. If you can do good and also get your own life in the process, as I think you often can. I often think that actually great component and meaningful life. You know benefitting yourself is a bonus of doing good, it’s not a cause.
Lewis: Yeah, I mean for me personally feel free to let me know based on your research. I don’t feel like only serving the world and sacrificing all of our wants and needs and dreams and desire is worth it to sacrifice at all. I think it’s only worth it if we’re able to create a win-win, where we are filled up every single day. Where our needs are met and striving to get what we want that we’re fulfilled and we’re also making an impact. If it’s just serving the world and we’re doing a disservice to ourselves then what’s the point?
Will: Yeah, you don’t want to be one of those, you know you don’t want to be someone who is just doing this self-sacrificial and focus on badly as possible and how can I do the most good? But I think you know helping others kind and should be a significant part of what makes a meaningful life.
Lewis: Yeah. I mean I talked about this like this should be the way you’re being 24/7 and you should be in service when you’re walking down the street you should smile, you should open the door for people. You know I’ll buy an extra juice for someone behind me and line just because I want to do something nice, it can be called random acts of kindness, it can be just a good human being and saying hello. You know it doesn’t have to be this “Let me donate everything in my life every single day.”
Will: Yeah and that’s actually. So a bunch of evidence from how additional money just makes you, does way less and improve your happiness than people expect. Like we overestimate how much additional income make them happier and they underestimate how much kind of giving will improve their lives.
So in some studies they got people same money, some are told to spend in on themselves and other they told to donate. And it was the people who donated that felt much happier about themselves afterwards. You know with just hard work to be kind of optimistic you know social animals and maybe less, a portion of people psychopaths or something. And that actually means that there’s much less of a trade-off I think, you know I mean I think like if you do want live less on yourself to help others that’s like really should be applauded. A lot of the time it’s just you know donating a portion of your income even if that’s 10% or more or like choosing to have a career that you think is gonna do more good, very often it’s much less of a sacrifice than you think actually kind of benefit, and at the same time made you this huge difference to this world because that’s the opportunity we have.
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