I don’t consider myself an expert on giving in the materialistic sense of the term. Far from it. I struggle with decisions on gift buying for my wife (much less myself). I’m reluctant to make charitable contributions. I’d go so far as to say I’m a lousy consumer. At times I can barely cope with the incessant demands to buy.
Yet I recognize that much of our lives consist of giving and receiving. If you’re more cynical, you might say “giving and taking.” The former demands that you relinquish time, attention, and money. The latter demands you wait for your just reward. Often the taking precludes any thought of “giving back.”
Our generosity, to the extent we exercise it, assumes our effort is reciprocated. In other words, I help you, you help me, and so on.
As a result, so-called “free” offers are anything but that. They’re made with the hope that a taste of something will want you to consume an entire meal of it. In other words, there are strings attached to the offer. And the giver usually feels some degree of anxiety about such conditions. They often weigh the offer itself against the results it generates. If I'm not attracting more in clients, customers, etc., why should I continue to give myself away for free? That's the question that inspires their thinking.
But there’s a far more satisfying way to give. It’s unconditional. You seek nothing in doing so. The sheer joy of giving is all that matters. You have no ulterior motive.
It’s the kind of giving that seeks no rewards. You’re not left wondering what will happen. You’re not waiting for anything in return. It doesn’t even matter if the gift is acknowledged.
Your gut inspires you to give. You feel wonderful in ways that you might not be able to put into words. You feel more connected to the world around you. If you’re fortunate, those good feelings last long after you’ve made the gift. Perhaps you’ll resurrect those same feelings whenever you think about the gift in the future.
I want to give for this reason. I want to give without the expectation of rewards. I know how good it feels to do so. I also know how challenging it can be for me as I navigate the often choppy waters of my life. I’m comforted by the recognition that I’ve experienced this kind of giving. I remain optimistic that I will do so again.
If you want to read more about this kind of giving, check out Try Giving Yourself Away by David Dunn. On the surface it might seem dated; look beyond, however, and you'll encounter timeless inspiration.
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