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The Selfless Good Deed Challenge

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

Who hasn't seen the American sitcom television series "Friends", where Joey challenges Phoebe to find only one selfless good deed. His theory follows the principle that all good acts of service make you feel good, which leads him to say, that all good deeds are selfish.

Jenny Santi, an American author, writes in the TIME magazine: "For centuries, the greatest thinkers have suggested the same thing: Happiness is found in helping others." and quotes a Chinese saying that goes: 'If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.' "

Aren't we humans a lucky breed: we are being rewarded with happiness for doing good for others.

Shouldn't the world then be full of good deeds and happy people?

How strange then that climate change, healthcare crises, political and economic turmoil, terrorist attacks and uprooting demonstrations fill the headlines of today's newspapers across the world.

If we humans have originally been incentivized, with happiness, to do good, why are humans contributing to these headlines?

The answer is: Money.

Money is a remarkable human invention, a mental symbol, a social organization and a means for the application and transfer of social power for accomplishment, write Garry Jacobs and Ivo Slaus in their article on "the Power of Money".

Adam Smith, a world renowned economist and philosopher describes this in the "Wealth of Nations":

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.

Governing any social problem fair and efficiently seems impossible, due to the "uncertainty of demand, imperfect consumer information and externalities" in the system, as described in Sheila Smith and Julian Le Grand's The Economics of Social Problems. They base the main source of inefficiencies in the hidden moral hazards. Economists call this adverse selection.

Positive Parivartan believes that climate change, healthcare crises, political and economic turmoil, the upcoming visibilities of right wing extreme parties in the government can be solved when the incentives of the population are aligned with the interests of those in power.

The purpose of Positive Parivartan is to lay out the outline of social issues, political topics, current affairs and collect innovative ideas to provide food for thought to governments trying to solve these issues sustainably. Hereby it is important to maximize the learnings from various countries. We strongly believe good hearts and positive intentions need more space in governments, more power to speak up and more ways to break through the current structures to implement long-lasting Positive Parivartan, positive change.

If humans are built to serve and feel happy at the same time, who doesn't want to be "selfish", feel happy and do something beneficial for the world?

Make sure you share your thoughts in the Forum.

Thank you for your contribution.


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