Altruism: The act of being selfless. What does being selfless really mean? And how much of our selfless acts are really a reflection of how we feel about ourselves and what we are trying to prove about ourselves. Do we really commit acts of selflessness through sheer unconditional love? Is it possible to be totally unconditional in our love? If we give, do we expect something back in return? I am a firm believer that the more we give –and not just monetary – the easier it is for us to be altruistic. Yet, as humans we are bound to experience ambivalent and mixed feelings when do choose to be selfless. The most difficult piece I believe in being altruistic is not having expectations and learning to trust in the process –but it takes time to get to that level. I think this is part of our soul evolving and growing – and in time it teaches us about the real things in life that matter.
Altruism is a message that I have heard since I was a child. Give, Give, Give –for it is in giving you shall receive. As a child, the message was simple –the more I give, the more I will be rewarded. So on many levels, I gave because on some level expected to be compensated, rewarded, or even just complimented on how giving we really are. It is good for the ego to hear compliments and to hear thank you’s. It makes us as individual’s feel good about ourselves. And it reinforces positive behavior. Obviously, as we mature into adults, we change, and our definition of altruism changes – so we think. But somewhere deep down we want to be acknowledged for that act. We are humans, it is normal to feel that. But when do we get to a point where it doesn’t matter anymore about the consequences, the thank you, the acknowledgement or the pat on the back – that it just becomes a matter of compassion. Like a mother – there is no question in even asking –they will be there for their child immediately, and not even think about the thank you. I believe compassion is needed to become selfless. I also believe that compassion begins in the home, in the family and in time, gets extended to community/society. Sometimes for others it is easier to do it on a community level rather than on an individual level -i.e. family.
My son’s school is creating a kindness garden. Sowing seeds of kindness so that they can grow …kindness spreads. That is important to teach – on a global level. It is beautiful that they are teaching children that as they begin to form friendships, relationships at this age. It also helps them make better choices. Often as adults when we put in a situation where we have to make choices about situations and commit a selfless act- it is not always easy. It takes alot of dissecting, discussion to help come to that decision. The decision/choice is because it is for the higher good. We know that we have done the right thing at that moment, because our heart is at peace. The mind is the one that begins to taunt us, to tell us that we are being taken advantage of, that we need to stand up for ourselves more, that we are being too nice. That is the mind speaking to us. And when the mind begins to play its tricks on us, we know that we are not acting in accordance with the higher good. It doesn’t mean that we do not communicate what is on our mind –that we do not process what we are feeling – we need to because as human beings we need to communicate. Communication and compassion go hand in hand. And when the two of them are in sync, we learn the act of being selfless.
We give of ourselves, our time, our money, our love, our space, our opinions, our joy, and the list goes on because it is for the higher good. Because it is to help another individual or a group that needs that little bit of kindness, that little bit of gesture, that little bit of love. We give because we want to demonstrate that they matter and that they are important and just like we take the time to give, they need to take the time to honor themselves too and love themselves. We give because we trust that even if it is a sacrifice on our part, that there is a universe that we are placing our trust in who will support our actions and give us the courage and strength to bear the ramifications and consequences. These lessons come to us over and over again in life to teach us that in different ways.
I read something this morning – “prosperity is not what we have attained, but in rather what you give away. It is only when you become empty that you can be filled with something greater. “ today I was placed with a dilemma where I had to make a decision which involved being absolutely selfless on my part- a decision that was difficult to make – a decision that could affect other decisions down the road – but I did it because I cared. And I believe that is what unconditional love is – it gives without worrying/expectation/reward. It gives to give.
Journaling prompt: Remember a time when someone did something for you unexpectedly, just because. And it was just what you needed at that moment. Remember how it felt. Remember feeling the shock, the gratitude, the bewilderment, remember all your emotions. Write about that experience. Now Pay it Forward. And by that I mean, pay it forward with another act of kindness –to a family member, a friend, a stranger, anyone. Just do it.