Zack Vayda and the Armchair Expert: Part 3

While I could write many more blogs about this particular podcast, this will be the last installment because I think it's the most important topic Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell cover. 

Kristen first explains to the listener her perspective on life. For her, everything can be boiled down to Happiness v. Suffering. Any situation she comes across in her life where she has to make a decision, she asks herself, "Will this act be putting more happiness into the world, or will it put more suffering into the world?" I appreciate this outlook because it's a concept anyone can understand. If all you did your entire life was output happiness and minimize suffering, you would have lived a very full life.

The second topic Dax and Kristen discussed which ties directly to Happiness v. Suffering is the age-old argument of Selfless v. Selfish. It's widely accepted that doing what one might call a selfless act (holding the door open for someone, helping a friend move, donating money to a good cause, etc) also brings positivity to the one doing this selfless act. But if one feels good about doing a selfless deed, isn't that actually a selfish deed? Can we call it selfless when I help a stranger with their problems, knowing I'm going to feel good about myself afterwards? Is it selfless, or selfish?
This has been debated for years, but I'm here to provide the answer.

The answer is, It doesn't matter. 

The best way to explain why it doesn't matter is actually to put it back in the context of the Happiness v. Suffering discussion. It's pretty straightforward. Doing a "selfless" act puts happiness in the world not only for the person you're helping, but also for you. That is twice as much happiness as would be put out if only the person you're helping benefitted.
With that in mind, consider what would happen beyond this "selfless" act. If you gained no happiness from this interaction, you are less likely to do another "selfless" act because it benefitted you in no way. But this isn't the case. You DO gain happiness from this interaction, which means you're very likely to do another similar act in the future, multiplying the potential for happiness output.

This is good news. This means we can help others with our acts, know it's going to benefit us as well, and we don't have to feel bad about that. 

As I said in the first blog about the Armchair Expert, this podcast is jam packed with useful life tips for anyone and everyone. If you listen to podcasts, I highly suggest the Kristen Bell episode of the Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard.

(It is an expletive podcast, so keep that in mind.)

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