Today’s caller was in line at a drive-through coffee place, and decided to pay for the people behind her in line. But she realized that, in the course of doing so, the rewarding feeling she got from the act may have been the reason she did it in the first place. And that led to her question for Bart Campolo:
“Is there actually an unselfish act? And if there isn’t, are we doing it for the right reasons? Can there even be an unselfish act and if there is, would that be good?”
Takeaways: The feeling of reward for good deeds is grounded in evolution, the idea that only truly selfless acts are pure or good is probably a holdover from faith-based ethics, virtue is its own reward, take pride in and enjoy being a good person, how you act is what makes the difference in the world, self-interest – properly understood – actually mandates altruism, and excessive selfishness in the name of pursuing happiness is misinformed.