Do Something For Nothing: Why You Should Give to Give, Not to Get

Our flight was delayed a few weeks ago so my husband and I found ourselves packed into a terminal in Memphis with about 100 other tired, hungry, and frustrated passengers. As I sat in a not-so-comfortable seat wishing I was anywhere but there I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation going on near me.  

Man 1: Hey I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to do in my spare time and I think I’m going to volunteer at a food pantry or become a sponsor in the Big Brothers organization. 

Man 2: That’s awesome! What a selfless thing to do, I’m proud of you!

Man 1: Yeah, I thought it would look really good on my resume’. Employers like that sort of thing, you know. 

This week’s topic “do something for nothing” has been on my mind ever since I heard that conversation. Most people are kind and will go out of their way to do good and help others (I’m betting you’re one of those people!), but sometimes the need for recognition and accolades supersede the act of kindness. 

Zero Expectations

The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one wants to be treated.“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s a belief that is found in most religions and cultures and it encourages us to treat others as we would like to be treated. However, within the rule, there are no references to treating others the way we want to be treated and then asking for payback for that treatment! 

When you do something for someone do you expect them to repay you or return the favor? Or do you give freely, without strings attached, and without expecting anything in return? 

When we keep an invisible scorecard of what we’ve done for others or we do things out of a give to get mindset (instead of a give to give) we take the beauty out of the act and it becomes muddied with selfishness. 

To help rein in selfish motives ask yourself these two questions : 

  1. What is my expectation around doing this act? 
  2. Is my heart in the right place? 

Just the simple act of stopping and questioning ourselves can keep our motives in check. 

Stop and imagine a world filled with people with only give-to-give motives! There is truly no limit to the amount of good you and I can do if we don’t care who gets the credit or expect anything in return. 

One For Me and One For You

When I was a little girl I remember dividing up pieces of Chicklet gum evenly between my sister and me. I’d drop a piece in her palm and then in mine saying “one for me and one of you” until the box was empty. I wasn’t a perfect kid by any means (just ask my four siblings!), but I do remember that sharing felt good, it made me happy, and I knew it was the right thing to do. 

We are blessed to be a blessing. It’s true. No matter how difficult our situation is, we are still nine times out of ten, better off than most people. Shifting our focus from ourselves to others opens our hearts and allows us to bless others. Switching from being selfish to being selfless opens our hearts and allows us to bless others too. 

If you’ve got plenty then give some away. You will feel good about it. It will make you happy. And, most importantly, it’s the right thing to do.  

See the Good in the World

With squabbles among politicians, cries to defund the police, crime in the cities, and global unrest (among other things) the media would have me believe the world is falling apart and that each and every one of us is part of the problem. 

I disagree. On any day, you and I can look around us and find the good in people.  

Just today I saw a woman in a parking lot helping a young mom unload her groceries and corral her kids into her vehicle. Yesterday a man bought a cup of coffee for the person behind him in line at my Starbucks. Last week my friend organized a “meal train” for another friend whose husband is in the ICU. An older man I know anonymously donates money to various causes every quarter. A couple I know volunteer at the Ronald McDonald house each month. Seeing their generosity makes me want to be a generous person. 

Good people bring out the good in people.Click To Tweet

Do Some Good in the World

Giving to give instead of giving to get has many benefits. Doing something for nothing with no expectation of reciprocation is a win-win situation for all parties involved. 

Did you know that charitable behavior…

  • releases endorphins in your brain. Endorphins reduce pain and boost pleasure and happiness. 
  • fights depression. Volunteering and focusing on others takes the focus off of ourselves and our problems.
  • alleviates stress. Studies show that cortisol (your body’s main stress hormone) levels decrease the more generous we are.
  • helps us to feel good about ourselves. Generosity is a confidence booster and helps to deflect the insults of our inner critics.
  • creates a connection. Generosity can elicit a closeness of the giver to the recipient and, conversely, the recipient to the giver.  

Time, Talents, and Treasures

Giving can come in all shapes and sizes and doesn’t have to include an exchange of money.  

You and I can:

  • Listen to someone who simply wants to vent their frustrations. 
  • Comfort someone with a touch or a word of encouragement. 
  • Affirm someone by telling them how much we believe in their potential.
  • Teach someone something we know (without acting superior).
  • Spend time with someone who is lonely. 
  • Accompany someone to a doctor’s appointment or scheduled procedure. 
  • Remember someone on a special date.
  • Express appreciation for someone being in your life. 

Let’s make a habit of doing some things for nothing and giving to give and not to get. When we do, we become a light to others and can be the reason someone still believes in the goodness of people.

Drop me a line and let me know about some good things you see going on in your world. What are some charitable things you’ve been involved with?  I’m always encouraged by the positive stories that my readers share with me.

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