We are faced with a new form of responsibility: our actions have a considerable impact on the fate of future generations, of human beings, of the 8 Million animal species, and this fate is in our hands today.

Matthieu Ricard

Today, our own behavior has repercussions not only on ourselves, but also on other living beings. Our power of impact is such that it is essential to become aware of the importance of altruism in shaping a better world. Matthieu Ricard explains that altruism is not a luxury, but a necessity in this day and age. Actions can be taken locally, by making them part of our daily routine. It is also possible to go beyond our own borders and act in favor of the collective, on a global scale.

We are the bearers of an altruistic potential that we can cultivate in a thousand and one ways. With this in mind, we at Karuna-Shechen propose a triptych that brings together inspiration, practice and involvement.

Don’t give in to individualism

Over the last few years, many of us have seen the emergence of anxiety in our surroundings. We can cite health crises, natural disasters, inflation or even wars and their direct impact on individuals

These are just a few of the many situations that can lead to withdrawal, empathic distress or even loneliness. In other words, a desire to escape and protect oneself by becoming more individualistic, to the point of forgetting the world around us.

How many of us have thought ; “It’s just a car ride”; “It’s just a sweater”;”It’s just meat”; “I can’t do anything on my own scale”. All this without any concern for what this “simple” round trip would do to the environment? Or asking where this sweater comes from? Or considering  the conditions under which the meat was raised and slaughtered?

The aim of this reflection is not to make us feel guilty, but rather to consider both the causes and the consequences of our actions, which are linked to our interdependence.

We have a tendency to seek out more and more pleasurable sensations, and to reject unpleasant ones. It’s this state of affairs that gives rise to our compulsive shopping, our consumption of meat, our flight from unpleasant moments, our reaction to turning a blind eye to injustice, and so on.

As a result of these reactions, we risk becoming trapped in a state of egocentricity. We’ll think our happiness depends on ourselves, and set off in pursuit of it. If we fail to achieve it, frustration may emerge, and the opposite of what we were looking for may happen: we become unhappy.

Taking care of ourselves  remains essential , but we should not  place our search for comfort in opposition to happiness and humanity. Thinking that our pleasure makes us happy is a mistake we’re all likely to make.

If you don’t know how to take care of yourself and the violence within you, you won’t be able to take care of others (…) If you’re irritated, you can’t listen to yourself. You must know how to breathe consciously, embrace your irritation and transform it.

Monk Thich Nhat Hanh
The more pleasure we have, the less happiness we have

Researcher Robert Luftig explains that pleasure, which is short-lived and material, constantly drives us to seek out new sources of pleasure. This is the opposite of happiness, which is longer-lasting and focused on less solitary aspects of life.

Let’s take the example of our favorite chocolate: by eating two bars, I’ll be satisfied with pleasure. But this indulgence then risks creating displeasure in the form of stomach pains.

What’s more, the search for satisfaction created by pleasure is influenced by scarcity: if I can buy anything I want, whenever I want it, these objects will have no real value. In fact, easy access to certain goods makes them less attractive, so there’s no longer any satisfaction.

Yet satisfaction actually lies in appreciating the things we own, in our commitments and in feeling that we’re doing actions that make sense to us, as Fabrice Midal reminds us.

We think that a happy life means well-being, so as soon as we suffer, we think we’re at fault, that there’s a dysfunction, and so we feel guilty. This model of happiness condemns us to suffering, powerlessness and guilt.

Fabrice Midal, psychotherapist
Get inspired at the Altruistic Encounters Saturday, on May 25th and Sunday, May 26th, 2024

The solution is closer we may think

Looking for inspiration around us

We can draw inspiration from those around us. 

Virginie Ferrara reminds us that comparing ourselves is not always negative, as long as the aim is to improve.

We can identify inspirations around us : within our families, at work, or even acts of kindness on the street.

Let’s take a moment to think about the personalities who inspire us.

Already in our childhood, we sometimes looked to people around us as our role models. At other times, we aspired to become a superhero. We dreamed of having superpowers or saving the world…

Even today, we are sometimes inspired by those around us, public figures or fictional characters. Through their qualities, physical abilities or mental strengths, they reveal in us aptitudes that are sometimes unconsciously repressed (Luce Janin-Devillars). Others arouse our curiosity, reassure us, or encourage us to bring out the best in ourselves.

This desire to identify with inspiring people is a sign of good mental health. It shows a desire to evolve, to continue building and enriching one’s personality throughout life

Saverio Tomasella, Doctor in Clinical Psychology

It’s also important to remember to express our gratitude to these everyday heros and heroines, and for the acts of kindness that help us to evolve and make the world evolve.

Embracing our emotions is essential

We can’t always anticipate the future, which is why  we need to train ourselves to identify our emotions, acknowledge them, and understand them better..

We are not our state oof mind

It’s important to dissociate ourselves from our state, without running away from it, because, as Matthieu Ricard reminds us, being anxious doesn’t mean “being anxiety”. Feeling pain or suffering is part of our existence, which is why we must learn to understand it.

Distinguishing suffering from pain

First of all, it’s essential to know that pain can be both physical and emotional. It’s both an unpleasant sensation felt in a part of the body and a distressing feeling, in the sense of moral pain. Added to this is suffering: the impact of pain and the place it occupies in our thoughts and lives. It’s like banging your leg against a piece of furniture, hurting yourself (pain) and complaining that it only happens to you (suffering).

Pain in our lives is inevitable. Since it’s inevitable, there’s something better we can  do than try to avoid it. The best thing we can do is to free up the energy we need to fight against our feelings, so that we can put that energy  to work for what matters to us.

François Bourgognon, psychotherapist
Acting towards something that makes sense

In order to welcome pain and live in harmony with its states, we need to identify what makes sense to us. In other words, finding what is in line with our values, our desires, and what has real meaning. This involves understanding what’s going on within and around us, both in our personal and professional lives, notably through introspection, opening up to others and acting for the common good.

Putting daily actions in place helps to cultivate our altruistic potential.

Taking care of yourself and others

We can start by taking time for ourselves, listening to ourselves and identifying daily practices that will help us cultivate our well-being. These practices can  be carried out collectively, to help each other and exchange ideas;   talking circles are one example. The aim is to be compassionate and to share.

Compassion, and in particular self-compassion, is a fundamental value, for as Kristin Neff, professor of human development, reminds us:

Self-compassion means showing kindness to yourself as an impartial human being, and learning to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties with greater ease.

This can be achieved through the practice of rejoicing. It’s a way of pleasing ourselves, in a healthy way, by doing things that bring us joy, such as :

  • Doing three activities we enjoy during the day: going for a thirty-minute run, sewing, drawing, sitting in nature, meditating… 
  • Creating a joy diary, in which we list the moments that have made us happy during the day. 

Sometimes we get so overworked that we forget ourselves. We forget to do what we love. Happiness has the power to brighten up our daily routine.

Perform simple but meaningful actions

So that inspiration and training don’t just feed our own egos, we can make involvement part of our routine. In other words, carry out simple but meaningful actions, with a focus on the people around us such as our family, friends and work colleagues.. The aim is to share and be compassionate, which are  fundamental values of commitment. It’s about trying to understand others better by accompanying them in a spirit of benevolence. In other words, putting mindfulness at the service of collective well-being.

In concrete terms, when I’m experiencing a difficult emotion, François Bourgognon advises:

  • Slow down: Calming down, don’t react impulsively.
  • Look: Looking at what’s going on inside you: thoughts, sensations, emotions.
  • Breathe: Breathing to calm yourself. Inhale deeply, exhale deeply.
  • Recognize: Recognizing the value at stake, the need behind the emotion.
  • Respond: Taking concrete action in line with our values.

So, from now on, we need to reinvent another discourse, another narrative, based on mutualization, on awareness, on valuing links rather than goods, and on freedom too.

Claire Nouvian, Bloom’s funder
Cultivate Your Commitment at the Altruistic Encounters on Saturday, May 25th and Sunday, May 26th, 2024

How is it possible to adopt more altruistic behavior without being aware of the interdependent link that unites living beings with one another?

Understanding our interdependence

This reciprocal dependence is present throughout the life process and applies just as much to genes as to bacteria or higher animals.

If we think about it, we ourselves, as human beings, are the fruit of the interdependence between chromosomes and cells that have joined forces. We live in interdependence with the trees that suck in polluting gasses, allowing us to breathe more easily. We cohabit with bees, which enable plants to reproduce thanks to the pollen they spread. The universe is home to the sky, which contains clouds, which in turn allow rain to fall. Rain falls on plants, enabling them to grow…

This process has no real time limit. The relationship of interdependence between beings has existed since the creation of the world. We ourselves pass it on to subsequent generations, sometimes quite unconsciously. We have in fact inherited the Earth from previous generations. As a result, the state of the Earth we pass on to future generations depends on our habits.

Buying a T-shirt isn’t a trivial act

With the warm weather approaching, let’s take the example of a small T-shirt bought in a ready-to-wear store. If we suspect that it’s not necessarily made just for us in the backroom, we don’t systematically think about the fact that it reflects a major interdependence.

Our impact on the world around us goes beyond the limits of our individual existence.

Where does the raw material come from? Who sewed it? Under what conditions? Did the person receive a salary commensurate with their work? How far did the T-shirt have to travel before being put on the shelves?

These questions show that our impact on the world around us goes beyond the limits of our individual existence.

By cultivating the quality of human relationships, social ties, a sense of belonging, benevolence, solicitude, passion and altruistic  love we have a much greater chance of triumphing together.

Matthieu Ricard
Our independence gives rhythm to our existence

The example of buying a T-shirt reflects an act of mindfulness. We can apply it to every gesture in our daily lives. We can also eat mindfully, thinking about where the ingredients of our favorite dish come from, the people who made it, and so on…

All this can arouse a variety of feelings in us: gratitude, melancholy, joy… By adopting mindfulness, we will no longer see  the  actions that  we often perceive as banal in the same light.

We must be careful not to fall into guilt and a feeling of powerlessness. Let’s see our actions as interdependent: those we can change, but also those that take care of others, the planet and ourselves!

About mindfulness: Above all, it allows you to work on your discernment, to distinguish the urgent from the important, to respond with attention rather than reacting with speed.

Christophe André, psychotherapist
Conscious consumption

Thinking about this interdependence brings us back to our own ways of consuming. Our consumption affects not only our health, but also the well-being of animals, the health of the soil, and even the state of the planet.

Understanding this opens the door to more conscious consumption, marked by respect and responsibility towards all living beings.

The road to responsible consumption

Making a commitment can be done step by step. With this in mind, we can adopt the 4P technique: Smallest Possible Steps. This involves making commitments that are within our reach, so that we can and want to carry them out: walking home instead of taking the bus, looking more closely at the provenance of the products I buy, or buying only what I need.

The following method can help us become more responsible consumers :

  • Need: by asking myself what is the need for my purchase? Is it a necessity? Do I like the way it looks?
  • Immediate: Do I need it right away? If I come back the following week, will I still have the same need? Am I influenced by a promotion?
  • Similar: Don’t I already have a similar item at home? 
  • Origin: Where does the item come from? Are the manufacturing and shipping conditions in line with my values?
  • Usefulness: Is this an item I’ll be using every day?

R. Luftig points out that the consumer industry makes consumers dependent on a reward system, influencing pleasure, which pushes us to buy regularly.

Reflecting on our spending could be a way of moving towards “happy sobriety”. A concept coined by the philosopher Patrick Viveret, and popularized by Pierre Rabhi, who urges us not to give in to overconsumption.


Faced with the complex challenges of our time, it is crucial that we refocus now on the well-being of society and all beings, and work towards greater social justice.

Every choice we make today resonates over time, and the future that awaits the generations that follow depends on it. And most of the time, as Flore Vasseur explains, we have to choose between our comfort and our humanity…

The Altruistic Encounters, to be held on May 25 and 26, will be an opportunity to reflect, share and engage with a variety of themes. You’ll find meditation sessions, workshops, talking circles and round-table discussions led by inspiring speakers such as Matthieu Ricard, Claire Nouvian and Christophe André. You’ll also have the chance to talk to representatives of various organizations.

The programs for these two exciting days are designed to encourage you to take care of yourself, give you the tools to reconnect with your body and work towards a more harmonious future, which we will shape together.

We may have come in different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now.

Martin Luther King, activist
Join Us for Altruism on Saturday, May 25th and Sunday, May 26th, 2024