Giving Less: I’m changing my mind here.

It was New Year’s Eve at our house. We invited people over and in my geeky way I hung large pieces of sticky paper with prompts to reflect on the year. What was your biggest accomplishment in the prior year? What did you learn? What are your goals for the coming year?

For goals, a friend wrote “eat less cheese.” (This was at a time when there was buzz about cheese’s addictive properties).

She thought about it for awhile, then changed her mind. She crossed out “less” to replace it with “more”.

Eat more cheese!

This is how I feel about yesterday’s post – where I proclaimed that I want to give more without expecting in return. It hasn’t been sitting well with me. I almost didn’t post, considered modifying it or removing it, but ultimately did neither.

Let me explain as best I can — though my thoughts are still in their infancy.

The post was spurned in part by Give and Take by Adam Grant. I have only just started the book, but Grant starts by telling stories about successful givers. People who genuinely do what’s best for others even at potential risk to themselves.

This resonates with me. I like to think I’m a giver, but I started to question if I really am. [Referring to time & energy here, not monetary giving.] I thought that maybe I’m not; maybe I’m more of a score keeper.

Upon further reflection, I think I usually am a giver. I can think of many examples when I try to help others and expect nothing in return except the joy it brings me if I can help. (Bear with me here. Is this high and mighty to say? Maybe. But I am sharing because I think what goes on in my head is too common, especially among you female readers. I want to share my internal dialogue in case it resonates with someone else).

Here is what got me on the wrong track. I think that I’m uncomfortable with thoughts of success and achievement. Sometimes I have big visions of what I want to achieve in life. Occasionally I get these thoughts that maybe doing X will lead to big dream Y. Maybe someone will notice, and… Maybe my relationship with so and so will lead to… I thought this meant that I only give X to get the Y. But I don’t think so. I don’t think there is anything wrong with these thoughts. It’s my eat more cheese moment. I think I should have more of them, not less.

Helping people, within reason, is great. My desire for a larger platform to help make the change I seek to make takes away from no one.

I end with this: Be kind, honest, and thoughtful. Occasionally, do something that helps someone even though you may be worse off because of it. Don’t do it so often that you deplete yourself. And always, always dream big and strong and get out there and make a positive difference in the world.

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