A couple years ago, I read The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer. Singer argues that people should donate their money to effective charities up to the point where any additional giving would harm them more than it would help others. Singer’s book has inspired me to become an effective altruist, which means that I try to do as much good as I can with my time and money. Before I read the book, a primary goal of mine was to maximize my time for friends, books, culture, nature, and travel. Now, I've come to view myself as having an ethical obligation to work hard to help others.
I believe I am happier now than I was before I read Peter Singer. I derive a great deal of happiness from my giving, and I still have ample space in my life for family, friends, and leisure activities. The concept of using a significant portion of my salary to help others has infused my professional work as an actuary with a new significance. Now, analyzing actuarial models is directly connected with my passion for making the world a better place.
In addition to finding satisfaction from giving itself, I really enjoy the community aspect of the effective altruism movement. I have found a wonderful effective altruism community in Boston, full of people who are passionate about making a positive difference in the world. We have dinners together every couple months, and the EA student organization at Harvard sponsors many great lectures. I also enjoy connecting with effective altruists in other cities when I travel.
In the future, I look forward to continuing to give as much as I can to effective charities and to helping build the effective altruism community.