Thinking for others’ good actually does much good to you; vice versa if it is bad!

Thinking well beyond self! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

When you wish well for your near and dear or pray for someone’s recovery from poor state of health, you always imagine or wish that it reaches that person, however remote she or he may be!

Lot of research has been conducted whether wishing or praying for someone’s wellbeing helps her/him or not. Praying for something good to happen or someone’s good health is practiced in one form or another in all races and religions in the world. Remote prayer is classically known as Intercessory Prayer (IP).

In 2006, Harvard professor Herbert Bensen had conducted systematic study of therapeutic effect of IP on more than 1,800 people; but no conclusive proof could be found. Work done by other researchers – Dr. Charles Bethea, Richard Dawkins, Jeffery Dusek etc. did not bring out consistent effect of IP or existence of any divine intervention consequent to IP. Such research over last several decades has been done in several permutations and combinations:

  1. Prayers (or good wishes) by strangers remotely
  2. Prayers by strangers locally
  3. Prayers by known people remotely
  4. Prayers by known people locally

Above 4 combinations gets multiplied by 8 times, considering that people praying had belief or no belief in prayers, prayer was offered with or without knowledge of concerned person, concerned person had belief in prayers or not and prayer was offered in anticipation of an event or post event. That brings a total of 32 types of prayers and there can possibly be more! 

In many societies, there are rituals for inviting divine powers to bestow good things like peace, prosperity or rains, in case of famine.

What is striking in all of above examples is that the biggest beneficiary is stranger, who holds strong belief that her/his (sincere) prayers or wishes do work and next is that recipient of good wishes, who feels good or grateful to the people, who prayed for her/him, regardless whether she or he is benefited or not!

Do thoughts travel from one to another point or person?

There is no scientific evidence yet; it remains a conjecture! Also, far cry is whether divine intervenes upon invitation through holy words or chanting!!

Yes; your thoughts or prayers affect you directly and that is what all studies prove! If the recipient’s sensory system is triggered by your expressions (on account of your thoughts or prayers), then resultant thoughts in mind of the recipient would impact him. Key is the kind of thought that gets developed in the mind of recipient. In exactly same situation, it is quite common that different recipients develop different thoughts. It is for this reason that above mentioned research on IP has shown varying results!

Why your good thoughts for others bring you more glorious results!

No doubt, you must think good about self. However, you run one risk, when you focus only on yourself – it can expand your ego, while enhancing your confidence; it may drive you into comfort zone, while compromising your efforts to excel!

On other hand, there are umpteen number of upsides in thinking good for others, regardless what they are:

  1. It is impossible to think good about others sincerely, without first feeling good about self. 
  2. When you think good for others, you go beyond self! This is a real trigger for many good things to come to you!!
    A manager, who thinks good for his/her customers and employees, would automatically be greatly benefited.
  3. You become humble and honest.
  4. You become open minded and optimistic.
  5. You are compelled to drop your ego and biases!
  6. Your vision broadens and wisdom deepens!
  7. It gives birth to empathy and you start to reap rich dividend from same.
  8. It instantly increases your competence to manage conflicts and allow you to deal with good and bad with same candor!
    If you have a difficult boss and go to meet him with decent feelings for him accepting what he is, you would have no difficult to deal with him. Even if he throws toxicity at you, you would automatically refrain yourself to get engaged with or escalate it. This can only help change behavior of boss towards you.
  9. Seeds of a true leadership is sown, when you rise above self and think about others and their good!

So far so good; look at the opposite side!

It is seldom that we think bad about ourselves; but we are ever ready to think bad about others out of envy, rivalry, bias, anger or fear! But, we rarely realize or analyze, if thinking good for others can bring us so much good as above, then thinking bad for others can also multiply into too much bad for us!

Above is what you can watch or I can vouch that it is rampant in our daily rigmarole!

It is impossible that our bad behavior, in any form, can ever bring us success or glory. Some people claim that they get pleasure; but that is sadistic and shameful! It is not possible to have good time with bad mind! 

If you are negative inside, you can never create positive outside (for others) or get positive results. Likewise, if you are genuinely positive inside, it is not possible that you can ever create negativity for others.

Very often, I hear people saying “To survive in this cruel world, you can’t be kind; look at that crook – how destiny is kind to him!” This is nothing but our illusion. Most probably, we don’t know real sufferings of the crook.

So, if you want great life, be genuinely good to others. Life would be without luster, if you flick between good and bad (which most do) or without light, if you stick to bad!

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19 Comments
  • Ravi Athalye
    Nov 7,2015 at 11:44 am

    A metrics for measuring theory and practice (Analogy to Larger Good to Self Interest) is the ration of amount of money you are willing to spend on an average to comply with governance to the amount you are expected to spend in order to comply.

    A list of such situations where these decisions are to be made would be a great score card to use to compare India with Globally compliant nations.

    Income tax
    Road median crossing
    Water use
    Electricity
    …………

    Ravi

    • Nov 7,2015 at 1:26 pm

      Good point! Thanks a lot!!

  • ravi athalye
    Nov 4,2015 at 1:58 pm

    Dear Murli,

    When a society behavior is based on un written rules much like the jungle animal hierarchy of survival of the fittest a certain harmony exists. The monkees take to trees to make way for the lions and the lions play second fiddle to the elephants……the vultures scavenge the kills……

    Humans with their brains are different. The so called monkee recognizes the wounded lion and takes on the lions role. Humans adopt avatars to make them succeed. Bosses do this to in corporate world when a benign manager becomes cold when announcing lay offs.

    Because of this human adaptability, a society like India can get away with severely lacking resources and still manage to put rocket in space at minimum cost. Of Course the chance of repeating this again is another matter because all processes are porous.

    Coming to larger good definition and wanting individuals to sacrifice personal good in deference to the larger good becomes ambiguous in India since the larger good has no fixed form.

    Once the philosophy of governance gets murky the application and practice of it cannot be policed and some sort of fuzzy logic composed of whims of the policing authority takes place. Since the population in India has grown with this porosity they co exist albiet with occasional disapproving nods.

    Given this ambiguity the thinking good for all becomes as fervent and symbolic as the religious rituals. Our blog and notion so still fits into this ambiguity.

    Mr Rudra’s opinion is a conflict caused by this ambiguity.

    India is more grey like the ever tolerating hindu precepts. We live in notions and general contextual appropriateness. The human in a allowed to behave in his own personal understanding of what is right in India. Fits into the tolerant Hindu consciousness.

    Yes think Good for all if the self is not inconvenienced ! Rather grey but suits India.

    • Nov 6,2015 at 10:12 pm

      Very well stated! I believe what you have elucidated points to a bitter truth that in India we survive more on opportunism than by working on opportunities!! It obviously implies – we are more fuzzy, though we believe we are factual and firm.

  • Ravi Athalye
    Nov 3,2015 at 5:52 pm

    Pardon my english. Did not review before sending.

    Read By as We second para. Third para enhance replace with enhanced

  • Ravi Athalye
    Nov 3,2015 at 5:48 pm

    The point I was making is that the larger good is to move a larger traffic in the shortest time with the available infrastructure and policing.

    By have an intelligent flexible regulation where the users based on their skills and judgement are allowed to “modify” rules at multiple risk enhancements. Those being : if caught they pay penalty. If they cause an accident it will be at less then 20 km. The participating members are able to read each others cue as to who goes first and what precisely they will violate. Understanding hierarchy of who is agile or who is heavier or who is a macho (dont care personality). Once the mobile society develops these understandings and are able to communicate and understand this home grown language then with an increased risk of accident the goal of maximum transport in minimum time is honed to an acceptable level of risk.

    A value based thinking and behavior in such an environment increases the risk over the enhance risk of the society described above. I am like a novice dancing on a stage with immensely connected coordinated ballet artist who are thrown out of their routine by a law abiding citizen like me.

    The larger good though composed of violators now becomes the norm and their existence is the larger good while I rant over violations which in fact are skillfull execution of a symbiotic harmonious actions of survival.

    Rather convoluted but this is why India is a Pandora’s box.

    Ravi

    • Nov 4,2015 at 1:11 pm

      Many thanks for your additional thoughts!

      I had got your point. What I am trying to drive at is – can larger good be ever a reality through intelligent flexible regulation, which is framed on the premises of accepting violation even if that is done skillfully? Some violators may do a decent job in allowing traffic to move faster; but how about majority that is illiterate and/or inconsiderate?

  • Ravi Athalye
    Oct 31,2015 at 7:44 pm

    Dear Murli,
    After 30 years in compliance with traffic rules in USA it is my conditioning that though I can save 1 km of extra driving by driving 15 meters in the wrong lane I cannot do it. I ask myself: it is night , police is absent, even traffic is absent , cant I get away with the 15 meters in the wrong lane?

    I dont do it because I have a picture who I want to be besides the legal violation. At my age not losing the values is important. I frown and sometimes rant at the 2 wheelers that approach me in the wrong direction. But since the Pune society has accepted this they have created a vigilance, reflexes and accommodation to allow the short cut takers to introduce this additional hazzard as a way of living in Pune. And perhaps allowing these violations allows the narrow roads to move more people everyday at an increased accident risk.

    To expand from this : If overall the Pune society is able to achieve bigger vehicle movements in shorter time by having an intelligent infrastructure ie the traffic has in built intelligence when and how to skillfully break the law then as a society are we not managing to do more with fewer investment albeit at greater safety risk?

    I marvel at 2 wheelers overtake a vehicle executing a U turn on both sides or vehicles jumping red signals before it turns green …….list is long.

    Moving people at minimum cost is the larger good. Allowing for the skilled to break rules without collateral damage allows this to happen while resolving the individual conflict of self need versus Social regulation.

    Paradox?

    • Nov 1,2015 at 4:37 pm

      Thanks for your additional comments!

      As I see, you yourself have provided the answer to the paradox by what you practice for traffic compliance.

      Cutting cost or short cuts would mean cutting something – may be safety, quality or discipline. Self need is self created; need for others would demand prudence in compromising it to an extent in overall interest. How does non-fulfillment of all self-needs hurt in overall perspective?

  • Ravi Athalye
    Oct 31,2015 at 10:09 am

    In Social Interactions there are always conflicts between over all good and good for self. A society for overall good will formulate policies and regulations to achieve overall.

    Example in traffic rules to prevent migration between opposing lanes create concrete medians. This on the whole is good for minimizing accidents and traffic flow. But it creates wasteful travelling for those wanting to go the opposite direction. How much an individual is willing to spend and waste time and money to comply?

    In USA the law enforcement and behavior conditioning enables 99.99% compliance. In India amongst 2 wheeler community there is 10% compliance.

    Policies themselves may not optimize the social needs that are being regulated and create a reluctance to think in terms of good for all.

    A violator of the median may harbour good notions of overall good but in actual practice revolt against the cost/time penalty imposition.

    Here is the question? Self survival or Society survival? With consistent violations of the
    Society imposed restrictions is it possible to think passionately of Good for All consistently?

    Ravi

    • Oct 31,2015 at 5:00 pm

      You have raised a pertinent and practical point! There is constant struggle and conflict of interests for self versus overall nearly in all societies for one reason or another.

      Doing things in self interest is normally short sighted; whereas doing in overall interest is far-sighted. Overall good would do good to self in any case and would also help bring order and safety. A matured person or society would normally think that a little compromise and pain can bring longer term benefit; so, why violate! But, they would always be in minority.

      You have to survive beyond doubt; but you can always seek a way to do so without endangering survival of others/society. This is where balancing act comes and life is all about balancing between self and others, plus and minus. Witnessing violation is very infectious – either you also want to violate or want to abandon idea of non-violation! However, either way it would not do good to you. And sooner or later, you would come to conclusion that thinking good overall is a better bet!

      We can also draw a parallel to your example of traffic with environmental protection. One can see how interest of individual, industry or even a nation clash with what is desired for the earth planet and future generations!

  • Rudra
    Oct 19,2015 at 7:07 pm

    Yes, though I fully agree with the title of this post, I still think you have to be a bit cruel to face this cruel world.

    How can you think always good or do good for a person who’s always on the edge to bring you down – incessantly? There should be a limit, a line of the tolerance level, no?

    I know this post wittingly sashaying us towards non-violence, and my response may sound a bit vicious… but I guess my question is how much is too much to keep thinking ‘good’ about a ‘bad’ person?

    In my daily life, I see many people spitting on roads, breaking traffic rules, corrupted, abuse as if there is no tomorrow… how can you keep thinking good about them?

    May be that’s why we have laws? You are surely not thinking good for a person when you are hanging him till death or awarding him with a life imprisonment?

    Can’t it be a mixture of both – let sky be the limit for good people and have the bad ones buried 6 feet under? 🙂

    • Oct 20,2015 at 3:34 pm

      Many thanks for your frank views! Your views are understandable and that is how masses think!!

      Bury all bad people 6 ft. under, as you stated; but are you aware of the implications? Good people would cease to exist!

      All along, we have been bit or more cruel with the cruel ones; but is that not true – cruel ones or cruelties have only grown. You want to correct behavior of wrong people or wrong doings of people. Laws very much have been around! Laws have created fear but have failed to promote compliance. So, number of wrong doings have only grown. If someone abuses, you believe that you could correct him/her by being little or more abusive? You would get to listen more abuses. Only way to create sober effect of abusive people is to explain them nicely (firmly no doubt; it comes when you have conviction in what you are trying to say)! And, if your ideas is not to correct wrong people, why not ignore them completely, rather than thinking bad about them?

      Post is neither implying nor advocating non-violence per say; but it would automatically lead you to that, if you do it right! What it brings out is – you are trying to do something, then you can as well do what would give you results! Think good, good would multiply when it is “beyond you”; think bad for others, that would also multiply for you!! So, do you want to be bad even in your thoughts?

      “Mixing good and bad” works is only an illusion.

      • Rudra
        Oct 20,2015 at 7:11 pm

        Well, the last sentence in your third para is exactly what I would like to do, and I do! I surely don’t reciprocate a bad person by saying/doing bad to him. It’s just that I can’t think of keep thinking good for an unremittingly bad person. It doesn’t help either of us, does it?

        But correct, that doesn’t mean we should generate and keep on engendering bad thoughts in our minds – this would only affect us badly!

        May be ‘Ignorance is bliss’!! 🙂

        • Oct 21,2015 at 2:56 pm

          Many thanks for your additional comments!

          I hope that difference between “Thinking for others’good” and “Liking or endorsing others’ doings” has been correctly understood. Some how I am getting a feeling from your comments that you seem to have impression that post is talking of the latter (I may be wrong). Post is purely about the former and is about overall perspective about others (positive or negative, which translates into biases). It is not about individual acts, which can be deplored or ignored if wrong!

  • Ravi Athalye
    Oct 15,2015 at 7:03 pm

    Dear Murli,
    When we live in society and engage in being productive for the society by offering goods/service/knowledge in a way we are all wanting to do “Good”. In each of the category we have nurturing and sustaining or temporary and detrimental to long term sustenance of society. Both objectives have a pay off that is often the driving force for the activities which last because the society is hungry for it.

    You are identifying an activity that can only spring from a spiritual source. That being wishing well of others without easily identifiable return. Now that you are identifying returns out of doing this selflessly smacks of the classic experiment (Was it Hisenberg ?) when the experimenter and the experiment influence the outcome. Virgin results independent of who conducts the experiment is not possible. To clarify : Would there be more people wanting to pray for others now that you have identified a “return on investment”. Some what like the miser who only gave alms to a beggar when there were witnesses.

    Just a thought.

    Ravi

    • Oct 16,2015 at 3:17 pm

      You have made significant observations! Thanks; these do help me to crystallize my thoughts further!!

      Let us break up the observations in parts.

      The way term “Spiritual” has been elaborated mainly by so called spiritual people has created lot of disconnect between “Seen (physical)” and “Unseen (virtual)”. A common man relates being spiritual to belief in God, worshiping (Bhakti), meditation or renunciation! Therefore, to many this term is untouchable or unreachable! To my knowledge, it is nothing but aligning your thoughts to a given perspective or situation and then align your actions to those thoughts, so that you get what you are aiming for. Having said that, tell me who on the earth does not need to be spiritual? Everyone needs to be, except for those fools, who want one thing but do another!

      It was Neil Bohr, who advanced the theory that presence of an observer or process of observation influences the process under observation! Scientifically, it has been found valid!!

      Key take away from the post is “If you genuinely wish good for others, then good happens to you! Why others – it takes away element of own ego!! It is also feasible to think genuinely good with no one else in mind; but that is next stage of evolving.” Now come the fine lines – if you do anything however noble with expectation of returns, you would no longer be genuine in your thoughts and then you may not get returns or get poor returns. A miser’s mentality to give alms in presence of witnesses defeats the very purpose of benevolence and hence miser is unlikely to benefit. A father praying so that his son gets a specific success, creates a kind of expectation – may or may not work. But, if father has faith in his son and prays for his good in general, it is more likely to benefit both!

      • Ravi Athalye
        Oct 16,2015 at 7:28 pm

        Dear Murli,
        Appreciate your diligence in replying each of my comments promptly and with thought. This must be your signature of your sincerity and intensity with which you blog.

        The benefit of selfless wish of good for all is in the nature of our brain construct. When one focuses on only good there is a negation of in built biases acquired in the course of living. These biases robs humans of efficiency in many ways and many pathways to thinking, awareness, neural controls, heart rhythm and others that are probably yet not understood. Creativity wanes when negativity enters the processing. Truth , simplicity and well wishing , I speculate are essentials to a healthy living and the outcome of such living would affect the quality of results and follows that benefits you mention must follow.

        The meaning of spirituality as a process of aligning actions to thought provided the underlying thought is pure (Pure being all those elements mentioned above) is a new perspective and stimulating subject to explore.

        As always you are keeping us aware of complexity of nature..

        Thanks,

        Ravi

        • Oct 17,2015 at 12:58 pm

          I am grateful for your kind words and views, which are far more important to me than my responses!

          Yes; a selfless wish for good (consistently, if one can) has far reaching effects on our being, built and living, which has not been correctly understood by most, I suspect. I have tried to test in on scientific basis and it has come out to be true every time!

          I completely agree that correct meaning of spirituality needs more investigation and attention. Over a period of time, lot of twists and religious overtones have been assigned, which deter people at large to recognize its relevance in all one thinks and does!

          Nature is actually very simple; but our ways of looking at it have become too complex.

          Thanks once again!!

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