THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL…ISN’T HOW MOST PEOPLE ACT
Why does something seem better when it’s done for others rather than oneself?
I gave a stranger a dollar vs saving that dollar for myself.
I listened to a complaining friend on the phone for any hour vs quietly immersing myself in a good book.
I went to an unenjoyable and obligatory fundraising event vs a romantic date night with my partner.
If Covid has done nothing else, it has reset our ideas of how we can enjoy ourselves.
When I was an Economics major in college, I learned the concept of “utility.” In this context, “utility” is a measure of how much you value something. Our goal as a society is to increase total utility as much as possible, leading to a larger quantity of happier people.
One thing to keep in mind is that we as individuals are the best judge of what makes us the happiest, ie. “maximizes our utility.”
We all like different things, yet somehow as a society, we can be very judgmental of others who don’t conform to the same likes as others. We, as individuals, are the best judges of what makes us happy.
We all have our own unique “Utility curves.” The talking Husky videos on Facebook make me happy, while the silly cat videos make you happy. If I can watch Husky Moon and you watch Grumpy Cat, then our combined utility curves will be higher than if I have to watch the cat and you watch the dog.
Without harming anyone else, therefore, it is best to pay attention to YOUR OWN wants and desires, and not try to guess or improve those of other people.
Won’t that make us a “selfish” society? you might be thinking. There is a caveat here: if you actually derive happiness and satisfaction from doing for others at the expense of yourself and can still care properly for yourself (you don’t give so much that someone else has to take care of you), then go ahead and do for others. Families and charities fall into this category.
Overall, happiness in society would be massively improved if everyone first and foremost made sure that taking care of themselves was a priority, and THEN looked after others.
Shaming others for liking different things will ultimately lower society’s happiness.
Do for yourself, the greatest love is that which we demonstrate to ourselves, and you will be in a far better position to help others, if that’s what you want.