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The art of selflessness

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Have we lost the ability to be selfless?

In the modern world of ‘you do you’ have we lost the ability to be selfless? Like any art form or ability, selflessness is a skill that can be learned and practiced. So, how and when should we practice the art of selflessness and why should we bother?

This week on Channel 9 TV show, Helping Hands, Laura Bennett is joined by a panel of experts to explore the answers to these fascinating questions. Focus on the Family CEO, Brett Ryan; Salvation Army youth worker, Emmylou Brasser; and founder and CEO of Charitabl, Mike Gore, explore what everyday selflessness can look like.

Perhaps surprisingly, our panellists agree that to be selfless, we need to first give ourselves permission be selfish.

Unless we are a little selfish, Brett says, we simply won’t have enough within ourselves to give.

“Looking after yourself means you’re a better you in whatever role you are … so you can give (to others) from an overflow rather than a depletion.”

Speaking from her experience working with youth at the Salvation Army’s Oasis Youth Services, Emmylou agrees that learning and practicing self-care is a crucial first step to developing the kind of selflessness that extends from a core of healthy motivation.

“It’s really important for me to show (young people) that they are deserving of nice things and of sometimes making themselves feel special or loved. Especially when they’ve grown up in family dynamics or households that haven’t ever really showed them.”

Without a strong core of self-care and assurance, the ability to be selfless can be motivated in an unhealthy way, Emmylou says, even for those who work in the sector.

“Often people think they’re being selfless, but their motivations sit in a place of wanting validation or getting credit for the work that they’re doing … have the right motivation and you have a why to what you’re doing.”

Mike, who brings nearly 40,000 charities together through his app, Charitabl, says that the most encouraging thing to remember is that selflessness is made special by the fact that it is one of the few things every human has in common, seen through the language of generosity.

“We have so many languages on the planet, and Australia is so beautifully multicultural, but the one language we all speak is the language of generosity … 100% of people on the planet will either be a recipient of generosity or a giver or donor towards generosity … the whole notion of generosity is, by nature, an act of selflessness … it is a brilliant and most beautiful unifier of the world.”


See THE ART OF SELFLESSNESS panel and the full catalogue of Helping Hands discussions at Catch up on full episodes of Helping Hands on 9NOW.

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* Our panellists, Brett Ryan, Emmylou Brasser and Mike Gore, and the Helping Hands producers are available for interview on radio, TV and online to discuss this topic. Get in touch at

#helpinghandstvau #makingtheworldabetterplace #paneldiscussion #impactmakers #gamechangers #selflessness #generosity #emmyloubrasser #salvationarmy #oasisyouthservices #brettryan #focusonthefamilyaustralia #mikegore #charitabl

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