#10 Give Without Strings
Giving without strings attached is more than giving something without receiving anything in return, it is giving without EXPECTING anything in return – which can be rarer than a Dodo sighting. How many of us can say we do something every day – or week – or ever, without expecting ANYTHING in return?
- We hug our S.O. and we expect a hug back.
- We say, “I love you” and we expect to hear “Love you, too.”
- We smile at a stranger we pass in the street and we ‘expect’ a smile or gesture in return.
This isn’t bad, it’s human nature.
There’s giving – and then there’s GIVING. Your employer may have an annual campaign encouraging you to “Give Your Fair Share”. If you sign up and have 10% of your salary given to United Way, Is this without strings? Not really. A campaign like this makes you feel obligated to participate, right? Yes, United Way is a well-known and respected non-profit. Still, this kind of company-encouraged giving is not in the spirit of what I’m talking about. Nor is tithing, since tithing is normally an expected part of church (community, organizational) membership.
Giving With No Strings Attached
Without Strings means, no obligation to give (perceived or not) AND no compensation or rewards in return for doing so.
Consider this; last week I was in the drive through at Starbucks. I pulled up to the window to get my Venti Flat White and the cashier said, “Have a great day. The car in front of you paid for your order.” Whaaaat? Seriously? How nice! By the time I realized that person had paid for my coffee they were long gone. They probably knew how surprised I would be, in a good way, and smiled to themselves imagining the look on my face when I found out.
Did that gesture impact my life in a major way? No. But, did it change my thoughts? Yes. Was my day better because of that gesture? That moment was better, so yes, probably. If that moment was better, possibly making my day better, then, it COULD have positively impacted my life. Right? Maybe. Something as simple (and inexpensive) as you springing for a stranger’s coffee can possibly make someone’s day (life) better.
It’s easy to think about how your life can be more fulfilling by giving without strings. Not only does this kind of anonymous giving make you feel good, I think it unites us, too. I don’t know the person who paid for my coffee, but I’ll bet if someone introduced them to me in the future we wouldn’t feel like total strangers. we’d feel connected – at least at some small level. Creating or changing an experience of another, even in a small way, unites you, with each other at a human level. (If you’re a critical thinker, you may wonder if the fulfillment one gains from the act of giving is, in fact, “a string”? We can debate this separately, but for now let’s say “no”.)
How does this No Strings Giving simplify your life?
I don’t know about you, but it’s complicated work to constantly keep track of “what’s in it for me” and who did what, returned the favor, ignored a kindness or reciprocated appropriately. Imagine the weight off your shoulders if you didn’t have to pay attention to whether you got a “thank you” or not. Yes, it’s always nice to be acknowledged or appreciated, but it doesn’t change the act. On top of that, you have no control over how someone will or won’t react – to anything. If you are truly giving without any obligation or expectation, the pressure is off. You’re doing what you know to be good and appropriate. Period. Any reaction – or not – after doesn’t change that.
What and how can you Give without Strings?
Giving doesn’t have to be substantial, financial, or create a hardship.
- At work, walking by the mailroom you see a package for Bob that’s been dropped off. Delivering mail “isn’t your job”, but you pick it up and drop it off at Bob’s desk. The person who would normally be responsible for delivering the package has a few more seconds freed up.
- You’ve been standing in the checkout line, waiting and waiting, seemingly forever. Someone joins the line behind you, holding 2 items. You have a basket-full and, even though you’ve been waiting (and waiting) in line, you let them move in front of you.
- Or, something Barb told me earlier – she walked to a local coffee shop and passed by 4 men who appeared to be homeless, huddled up on nearby steps bracing themselves against the cold wind. She got herself a coffee and 4 additional cups and gave them to the men on her way back to the marina. She didn’t say anything to them other than “Here are a few coffees with packets of sugar and cream. Enjoy.” and walked on.
- Every time I go grocery shopping I always include a $5 donation to the local food bank/soup kitchen. I stock up on my food for the week and include a meal for someone else, as well.
- Or, as was done for me – you can always “pay it backward” at a Starbucks drive-through (or McDonald’s, or … the drive-through of your choice)
These examples are small. Again, it doesn’t have to big things. We’ve all heard the big gestures of “a Secret Santa paying off everyone’s layaway at the local Sears” stories, and those are WONDERFUL. But consistently doing small things, giving in small ways without any need for reciprocation, acknowledgement or recognition in return, can change your world in Simple and Fulfilling ways.
This wraps up our 10 ways to simplify and create a more fulfilling life. I’d love to know what you thought and if any of the 10 resonated with you enough to take it on. If yes, which one and how’s it going? If no, what are your thoughts on simplifying and increasing your fulfillment / happiness levels? As always, if you haven’t already, please join us on Facebook. We have a Group where several women have come together to support each other, be sounding boards and good listeners. Check us out and chime in.
If you’d like to revisit any of the 10 steps in this series, links are below. If a consolidated report of all 10 together in one document is more convenient for you, Download here. If you’re not already on our email list, you’ll need to sign up. Otherwise, Download directly.
10 Ways to Simplify Your Life and Be More Fulfilled