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Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World
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Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World

4.3  ·  Rating details ·  349 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
The author of the international bestseller Happiness makes a passionate case for altruism--and why we need it now more than ever.

In Happiness, Matthieu Ricard demonstrated that true happiness is not tied to fleeting moments or sensations, but is an enduring state of soul rooted in mindfulness and compassion for others. Now he turns his lens from the personal to the global,
Hardcover, 864 pages
Published June 2nd 2015 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 6th 2015)
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Feb 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french, translated
This is the book that never ends. It just goes on and on, my friends. Ricard is ultimately unconvincing, but he makes some great observations on happiness. Ricard insists that we are born altruistic, yet spends the majority of the first half insisting that we can learn altruism and reiterating how we can do it (with pretty good advice), which defeats his point that it's inherent. The second half of the book is completely irrelevant to altruism and is just a collection of research on how we can s ...more
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dharma, goodreads
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway.
There was a lot to get through in this book but everything was relevant. We all have the capacity for altruism as shown in the research the author presents. With more effort we can improve society with more attention and cultivation of this.
Mar 19, 2015 rated it liked it
There is a lot in this book, to like and/or dislike; if you are a devout meat eater, you may not wish to read this book. It gives insight into trying to be a better person, for yourself, your family and the planet. There are many hidden agendas that are brought to the forefront by companies, people, and the government. It also shows how far money changes people and how truly consumable a society we have become but only because we have been taught. Truly a read that makes one think.
Aug 06, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is only partly successful in that it successfully discusses how altruism can positively change an individual and by extension the world, but it never successfully explains how this would be globally effective in modern society (with sociopaths, Ayn Rand devotees, etc.).
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Great concept, but read like a textbook. Would love the cliff notes version!
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ethics
A looooooooooooooong read, but full of fine gems and things to discuss, debate, and consider.
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Altruism would have been to make this book a lot shorter.

As with all self-help, what matters is if it resonates. Maybe this is the book you need now, but it didn't do it for me. I felt it lost the forest for the trees. Be nice. OK. Nuff said. That doesn't really take 864 pages. I don't think the central point requires all the scientifical and Buddhist stuff, etc.
Daniel Rickenbach
Sep 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an absolute must read if one is interested in more than a "Fox News" perspective of the world. I feel deeply moved after completing this work. It's importance speaks for itself. I'm glad some obscure librarian had this book on display at my local library. I will always treasure this find. It has deeply impacted my life.
Jul 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I thought the book was really good. I do think that there were some problems, though. I wasn't quite convinced by his argument that there's altruism in nature. There's some, but there's also a lot of predatory behavior. But I do think that book is needed and worthwhile.
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for everyone.
Dvir Oren
Dec 22, 2015 rated it liked it
altruism makes you feel better and is a part of human behaviour
Michael Armijo
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My dear friend, Barbara Reynolds, who now lives in Petaluma, CA informed me in a handwritten letter that she’d seen Matthieu Ricard on some talk show and was intrigued about his book, ALTRUISM. It inspired me to order my own copy from I’m glad I did.
This book is almost like a text book about how to live a more enriched and fulfilling life by being compassionate through love and sharing. I loved the many lines and tips I received. It took me a long time to read as I wanted to enrich m
Alex Schearer
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking but over long

The first section of the book which outlines what altruism is, emperical evidence for it's existence, and a process to develop it is particularly good. The later sections recounting stories of altruism in action and sketching ideas for future solutions to global systematic problems are thought provoking but less compelling. Nevertheless the book is worth reading and a challenge to the reader to live a more altruistic life.
Keith Corbin
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deep and powerful

One of the best books I have read in a long time. This well researched, lengthy tome shows so much about humanity and our potential. I do not know how this book will ultimately change my life,but I know it will.
Nicoleta Rascol
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Quite long but there are so many interesting topics. one may think that this book should be split in two or more books with subjects that are complementary but different in the same time.
Julia Wahl
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of the most important books I've read. Ever. Lots of very important evidence that points out the profound positive effect of altruism on the lives of individuals, groups, nations and our world.
Andrew Peters
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book.
Cee Black
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Charles Dion
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reads like a text book with interludes of deeply moving poetry.
Mar 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
Never actually got through this tome... 'Date finished' is rather the date I finished trying.
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lisa Kentgen
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I so value Ricard's thinking and writing. This book is long and takes commitment. If you are uncertain but want to read Ricard, 'the monk and the philosopher' is a gem.
However, the topic of this book is so important....and if you would like to cultivate altruism in your own life, this is an invaluable book.
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Great book that would have been better if the author would have cut it in half. Don't get me wrong, I'm not referring to the length but to the content. The author spends the first half of the book taking us through altruism and teaching us how to be more altruistic. Although he does this from a Buddhist point of view, his remarks can, for the most part, be applied to any religion.

The second half of the book, however, is where the wheels come off. We go from a book about altruism to a book about
Mar 26, 2015 rated it liked it
I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway.

I enjoyed reading this book. Despite it's length, it was easy to read.
It was evident that the author was trying to inspire others to get in touch with their inner altruism, but it seemed too hippy-dippy to me.
Some people are not wired to be altruistic, and that's what I have always believed. This book failed to change that belief. As another review mentioned, there are sociopaths and other innately cruel beings whose brains are just wired differently an
Stacy Schmidt
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I found this book in the browsing section of the library, and I thought it looked worth my time; I was not disappointed. It is a very thoughtful book, and well researched. I appreciated the fact that there was a strong reliance on scientific studies and experts. I also appreciated the variety of topics the book covered, such as basic human rights, equality, and environmental preservation. I wouldn't go so far as to say that this book is perfect (I'd be hard pressed to name a single "perfect" boo ...more
Dana Larose
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, nonfiction, owned
Pretty much a textbook on Altruism. Richard makes the case that human nature is essentially kind and co-operative and that nurturing that inclination is necessary for society's progress and to stave off environmental catastrophe. Really interesting and detailed and I'll enjoy having scientific references to throw at people who tell me humans are by nature cruel or selfish.

The last third of the book was fairly pie-in-the-sky, discussing international governance, reforms to capitalism, etc. I'd ha
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
At more than 800 pages, Altruism by Mathiew Ricard is an extensive look at the subject. His writing draws from an in-depth examination of scientific research.

I found his chapter “Altruism Among Children” particularly interesting. He highlights some experiments involving young children and it was determined that “the tendency to help others is innate.|

Although the book is lengthy, it is best to read a few chapters at a time; absorb the concepts and appreciate the research that has been done invo
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"People who take a step on the path of barbarism are not always full aware of crossing an unacceptable boundary, since they don't clearly apprehend the outcome of this path, and think that a minor infringement of their sense of morality will not have any consequences". pg 404

"I think that man will never cease to rediscover man - thru love. And that this is the most important and most lasting thing." Tadeusz Bowowski, Auschwitz Survivor
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Altruism the book aptly features a yellow cover which is the color of humanitarian compassion.

Each chapter is chock full of great insight about how to prosper as a person and help others prosper all by acting altruistic in the world.

Definitions of altruism, research studies, and real-life stories make this a compelling must-read.

More this this: one can develop an altruistic nature as they go along in life.

I make the case for altruism as a way of life.
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Reading Along Wit...: Matthieu Ricard: “Altruism” 1 7 Jun 15, 2015 04:53AM  
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Born in 1946, Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk, an author, translator and photographer. He has lived, studied and worked in the Himalayan region for over forty years.

The son of French philosopher Jean-François Revel and artist Yahne Le Toumelin, Matthieu grew up among the personalities and ideas of Paris’ intellectual and artistic circles. He earned a Ph.D degree in cell genetics at the renowned
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“Voluntary simplicity is at once joyous and altruistic. Joyous because it is not permanently plagued by the hunger for “more”; altruistic because it does not encourage the disproportionate concentration of resources in the hands of a few, resources which—were they to be spread evenly—would significantly improve the lives of those deprived of basic needs.” 5 likes
“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed. —GANDHI T” 3 likes
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