How To Give And Expect Nothing In Return
Giving – of time, money or talent – is something we often do unconsciously because we want to help people. We give to charity. We donate and volunteer at schools, soup kitchens and community centers. But there are times when the act of giving is heavily weighted. This happens when we give and automatically expect something in return – a favor or a helping hand, for example. Not only do we expect that people match or exceed our initial efforts, we expect them to do so when we want and in the exact manner we want them to. If they don’t? We end up holding a grudge, getting into an argument or vowing never to help them again. But giving doesn’t have to be so complicated.
By purposefully and intentionally giving and expecting nothing in return, we can alleviate some of the unnecessary burdens that arise when we help a fellow person in need. This is by no means an excuse to allow someone to treat you with disrespect or to take advantage of your kindness. Nor is this a reason to always say “yes.” But giving and expecting nothing in return simply breeds better, happier results. Here is how you can do so.
Don’t Keep Score
Keeping score of what you have given others, and then measuring that against what they’ve given (or haven’t given) you is a surefire road to disappointment. Giving doesn’t work on a scale.
Lower Your Expectations
This is a statement women often hear when it comes to dating and relationships. “Lower your expectations.” Needless to say, this message is not always well-received. It applies, nonetheless, to the art of giving. If you tie giving to a set of arbitrary expectations, the message will get lost and unintended consequences may arise.
Pay It Forward
Instead of expecting something in return that will directly benefit you, insist that the receiver of your kind or generous deed pay it forward.
Keep Your Ego in Check
If you allow it, your ego will try to convince you that you’re doing the wrong thing. But keep it in check and remember the benefits of giving without expecting anything in return.
Have No Hidden Agenda
While all relationships need to be nurtured and some require a certain form or level of commitment, not all relationships bear an explicit, definitive return. For example, sometimes when we do someone a favor several times over (whether we’re asked or we volunteer), we assume that person will not only do a favor for us as well, but will do so in the exact way and at the exact time we want them to. But there’s no guarantee that will ever happen. If you’re in a giving spirit, give because you want to and because you can.
Leave Room for Surprise
By giving without expecting anything in return, you allow room for surprise. If and when that gesture is acknowledged with a simple thank you, a gift, an opportunity, etc., you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Giving without expecting anything in return can be an incredibly freeing experience. It can also open you up to giving more, and make you more appreciative when you’re on the receiving end of someone else’s generosity.
What if someone told you that doing all of this can lead to a happier life? Wouldn’t you attempt to give more?
Cynics will find a way to negatively interpret the way you give. Some might see it as a sign of weakness. Others might think you’re being too nice or that by expecting nothing in return, you’re letting people walk all over you. A few might even say that you’re not giving enough. Ignore them.