I’m Not a Fan of Favors…So This Is a Gift (365 Days of Spirited Living — DAY 350)
“Presents are made for the pleasure of who gives them, not the merits of who receives them.”
— Carlos Ruiz Zafón
We have this thing in modern society where we have such a love affair with cutting deals with each other and giving only in order to get. You know how it goes, right? You attend my event, I attend yours. You write a kind word about me on Instagram and I do the same for you. I listen to you speak for ten minutes so then you will owe me ten minutes of listening when I speak too.
It is almost uncommon that we do anything for others anymore out of pure kindness and altruistic motives, with absolutely no expectations of receiving. Every act does not have to be reciprocated and no, life is absolutely not a business deal. When we really look at it, life itself is a battle and we should give support and encouragement to others even if it is not returned in kind.
I frequent my city’s local grocery stories, and frequent, as in every other day almost. There’s always something that’s needed or could be bought. Quite honestly, people seem to always be in a hurry in the store. And I have this huge habit of when I am approaching the checkout line and someone is trying to get to the same checkout line, I just stop, smile, nod my hand and let them go.
Once every blue moon, someone will smile and say thank you. But more often than not, that person I just kindly let cut me in line will take the spot and not give the first thought that I may have been in just as much of a hurry as they were but didn’t show it. On the inside, of course, I have to beat down that mocking voice that says, “a simply thank you would suffice” [hands on hips, eye-roll].
I have to knock that voice down because it is so easy to verbalize what people should do especially when we’ve done something for them, but it is not expedient. We’re quick to identify when people are mannerless. It’s actually futile to point it out though because if we’re demanding thanks, we more likely not to get it. Demanded thanks, like demanded love, is meaningless.
There is nothing wrong on the surface with this give and take. It’s natural to want to feel appreciated when we’ve done something nice for someone else. Reciprocal living is beautiful. We give love to get love. We give support to get support. The give and take keeps us on a see-saw, a sort of balance. But when we’re giving only to ensure that we get something, we miss the whole point of kindness and love, blessings and good feelings.
There’s a rhythm to giving without taking the time to attach strings to every gift. Like undocking all the boats at the lake and letting them run free across the water. When I stop putting up walls filled with expectations, I feel more open, kinder, loving, lighter, freer. Yes, there is a deep freedom that comes from being humble enough to serve, loving enough to give, and wise enough not to expect a thing from anyone. Expectations only set us up for huge disappointment.
Try it. Just giving. No stress. No pressure. Simple kindness. No strings. No conditions. Pure love. No expectations. No getting. Honest intentions. The thought that ‘you need this’ or ‘you could use that’ is enough to just give it. I can let you take my place in line because I’m not in a hurry. I can take a step back because you need to be first. I can give this help because I don’t want anything to come back to me. I’m not a fan of favors, so take this as a gift.
Because all the thank-you’s and the smiles and the good feelings are on the inside. When you give, your soul thanks you. Your heart will be happy. Neurons in your brain will start jumping because it is truly “more blessed to give than to receive”. All the goodness is wrapped up in giving the gift. And joy sparks shoot up all around us when the gift is given.
The occasional thank-you note is nice to receive and says a lot more about the thoughtful giver than me. But I don’t stand at a chalkboard and keep score. A continuous awareness of our own blessings and how much we have that could be given away tears down the attitude that we’re slightly entitled to the thanks we don’t get. It lifts us higher and higher. Because kindness is beautiful. Love is grace. And the best things are not favors, they’re gifts.
“The degree of loving is measured by the degree of giving.”
— Edwin Louis Cole