Individual Happiness

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Will the pursuit of individual happiness disrupt the order of global society or the Earth? We all want to be happy, but many people also believe that if individuals pursue their own happiness through selfish actions, it will disrupt the social order. In this chapter, we will explore the possibility that pursuing individual happiness could lead to benefits that can change society and the entire planet for the better.

Self-Interest vs. Altruism

This chapter draws on two Japanese concepts called “Jiri” (self-interest) and “Rita” (altruism). According to the dictionary Kojien, “Jiri” refers to doing something for one’s own benefit, while “Rita” means “to give benefit to others by sacrificing oneself, and to wish for the happiness of others.”

Since “Jiri” literally means “self-interest,” it can be considered synonymous with “individual happiness.” On the other hand, “Rita” generally refers to a admirable action, such as being helpful or kind to others.

We think that another concept called “利他の精神” (the spirit of altruism) does not contradict the above concept of self-interest, but rather they are two sides of the same coin. Altruism includes one’s thoughts of wanting another person to be happy (i.e., self-interest), and there is often some kind of imposition or return involved. Are many of the actions we consider altruistic really beneficial to the other person? In fact, aren’t they benefiting us?

Furthermore, in the context of our relationship with society, there may be limits to altruism. For example, is it good for us as individuals and for society as a whole to become exhausted through excessive self-sacrifice by emphasizing sociability and cooperation, resulting in a loss of motivation and energy?

Altruistic behavior inherently includes the thought of “if I do this for the other person, it will benefit them.” (Omitted) However, we cannot know for sure how the other person will feel until we try. (Omitted) Altruism that is not aware of this uncertainty can become pushy, and in severe cases, violent. (Omitted) When the belief of “I am doing this for you, so you should be happy” starts to be imposed, people see altruism as self-sacrifice and demand gratitude from the other person.
(Asa Ito, Takeshi Nakajima, Eisuke Wakamatsu, Kouichirou Kokubun, Kenichiro Isosaki, “What is Altruism,” pp. 50-51.)

In contemplating the discussion above, we sought a concept that goes beyond the binary of self-interest/altruism. As a result, we came up with the idea of “Tari,” which means “mutual benefit.”


“Tari” (他利) refers to the idea of “benefitting others” and can be seen as the counterpart of “Jiri” (自利), or “self-interest” for others. Although it originated from Buddhist teachings, we believe that the concept of “Tari” has the potential to change the world.

For instance, “Tari” can manifest not only as gaining direct benefits from others but also as finding joy in the happiness of others. By accepting and embracing others’ actions, we can make their pursuit of happiness our own, leading to a state of “Tari”. This Tari-based state is likely to emerge through empathy and resonance between individuals and thus spread further.

Here are some examples of “Tari”. Suppose I had a friend who had a sad experience and I wanted to cheer him up. To do this, I listened to his story with the intention of making him feel better. During our conversation, memories of my own similar experiences resurfaced, and I began to feel his sadness as if it were my own. My consciousness shifted from outward (my friend) to inward (my own inner self), and we eventually empathized with each other, spending a very meaningful time together. My friend said, “Thank you for listening,” but I felt overwhelmed with gratitude towards him as well.

This is an example of “Tari” born through empathy. Another example of “Tari” born through resonance is when we see a marathon runner pushing themselves to the limit and we naturally feel inclined to support and cheer them on. This is the act of resonating with the runner’s determination and effort. The runner, in turn, is moved by the support and tries even harder, creating a positive feedback loop. I conceptualize this as the “Tari Loop” chain of altruism, whereby others’ joy becomes our joy, as well.

We believe that by overlapping and resonating these “Tari Loops,” we can increase the chances of Tari emerging and spreading. Tari is not about intentionally giving benefits to others, like Rita, but rather something that arises from empathy and resonance, leading to mutual happiness.

Transforming the World Through Tari

How can we change our behavior to create a better society and world? Based on the ideas of “Jiri” (self-interest), “Rita” (altruism), and “Tari” (mutual benefit), we will consider behavior from two perspectives.

Firstly, “Establishing the Individual Change the World.” We believe that most people should avoid excessive self-sacrifice and depletion by distancing themselves from their current values through education and social norms. This indicates that there are limits to excessive self-sacrifice. Furthermore, the majority should be aware that finding happiness in what they are passionate about can spread empathy through the Tari Loop (chain of altruism) and become a catalyst for societal change. Thus, a slight change in the values of the majority can be a driving force to change the world. By supporting those who are passionate about something or pursuing our own passions, we can establish ourselves by incorporating different values. In turn, establishing oneself by incorporating different values and pursuing personal happiness may result in the potential to change the world through the expansion of the chain of altruism. Could the establishment of “being passionate about something” become a significant part of changing the world?

Secondly, “Resonance (i.e., Tari Loop) Change the Individual.” Individuals need to look outside their existing communities and create new connections that are different from their past experiences. This may lead to discovering new movements within oneself. It is essential for individuals to break out of their shell of self-interest to achieve a state in which they can expand the chain of altruism through resonance. By having the courage to look outside themselves, resonance can occur, and the chain of altruism can expand. In this way, resonance has the potential to transform individuals.

The Future that Has Happened and Beyond

The establishment of the individual and the cycle of mutual benefit that we have seen so far are not stories of the distant future, but rather we can already find signs of them in various places in modern society. Signs of valuing the establishment of the individual are especially salient among Gen Z, who express themselves on social media; the re-examination of the meaning of work and the introduction of a three-day weekend system; and the trend of mindfulness to reflect on one’s inner self. In addition, signs of the cycle of mutual benefit from resonance include an increase in social entrepreneurs and the ecosystem that supports them, the emergence of platforms based on empathy and support, and the popularity and utilization of crowdfunding.

At the beginning of this chapter, we posed the question, “If individuals pursue their happiness, will the order of society/world/earth be disrupted?” Throughout this chapter, we have stated that the world can change through the establishment of individuality rather than obedience to society, and by looking beyond existing communities to expand the Tari Loop (chain of altruism).

By becoming aware of the existence of the establishment of individuality and the Tari Loop (chain of altruism) and acting on it, individuals can pursue their own happiness without disrupting or breaking the order of the world. Pursuing and sharing our passion with others, along with empathizing, resonating, and accepting their passions can expand the Tari Loop (chain of altruism). We can live our lives in our own way, empathize, resonate, and accept others’ passions. If we have the courage to pursue our happiness, the world, and the earth can change.