Amazon Rain Forest, Peru. Photo by FR Montoya

The Selfish Act of Giving

I can still feel the joy, excitement and purpose of when my wife and I were in serious financial trouble and we gave our time in the preparation of food from our home. The satisfaction, that despite our situation we could help others who could not help themselves. This I know to be so!

To quote the American industrialist Harvey S. Firestone, “You get the best out of others when you give the best of yourself.” Giving, often perceived as a selfless act, is in reality an action that one does only for oneself.

We live in society and any action aimed at our own welfare is in some form or the other connected to another member of the society. As a result, the product of whatever we do comprises of energies from more than one source. This is what makes giving a necessarily selfish act… something we need in order to achieve what we desire. This holds true in any situation.

Take, for example, the most “generous” act of giving – charity. When you donate money or your time, your actions help someone. However, we do this because it makes us feel good about ourselves. You are not doing a favor. You are merely working towards liberating your soul.

As philanthropist John D. Rockefeller had put it, “Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege.”

Read Toastmasters  How Volunteering Improves Your Health

Also, if we think from the perspective that God has bestowed us with gifts that we should make full use of, ‘giving’ emerges as a natural reaction. Suppose you have it in you to become a successful entrepreneur. But, you find yourself entrapped in the monotony of a regular job. Recognize the fact that in such a case, you are not giving your best to the world. Think of the many opportunities you would have created for others by doing what you actually want to. That would not only enable you to realize your full potential, it would place you in a happier state of mind, since you would be pursing your dream and doing what you actually wanted to do. All engines full steam ahead, sort of thing. (Sorry my English humor is creeping in.)

Albert Einstein had summarized this thought in his words as, “It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.”

So, all we need to understand is that making a life is always more gratifying than making a living. Identify what you can give and find out ways in which you can deal with obstacles that keep you away from the selfish art of giving.

This quote from Kahlil Gibran concludes it nicely – “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

Remember your time is the only commodity you can not negotiate back!


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Ronald M. Allen

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