Five-year-old Katie asked for a coin for her to throw into a fountain at a local shopping center. She was given one, and duly walked over to the fountain, stopped for a few seconds, and threw it into the water, and came back to us, smiling.
“What did you wish for, Katie?” I asked, expecting some mention of Barbie in the answer.
“I wished that my brother could stay at home with us all of the time, and not have to go into hospital any more.” She replied.
I looked over at my wife, and saw that she had a tear in her eye.
On reflection, it made me realize how unselfish children can be in certain situations. They do not torture themselves with bias or perceptions of how their actions might impact upon others. They generally do what they want to do, and say what they want to say, until they get told to conform by parents or teachers. Children do need to be informed of boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed, or words that shouldn’t be said. They should, however, be allowed to fully develop their natural imagination and caring instincts in a positive, supportive framework.
By the same token, it made me realize how selfish us grown-ups have become. It seems that, for a lot of people, every act is performed only because of an expectation of something in return. You don’t think so? Let’s look at some examples:
You complain that your sister bought you a Christmas present that cost less than the one you bought for her.
You take your daughter out for a bike ride only so that you don’t have to play a game with her.
You take two-hour lunch breaks at work on a regular basis, yet you complain at appraisal time about your poor pay-rise.
You give up your seat on the train only because you think it will make you look good in front of others, and not because you want to.
You lend your best friend a small amount of money to help her out, yet all you can think about is when she will pay you back.
Giving with the expectation to receive is not giving, it’s lending. If you are lending somebody something, even subconsciously, you automatically expect some interest in return. This interest element is what causes the problem.
In the same way that interest on money compounds, so does this bank of accumulated selfishness. Like your monetary debt is always in the back of your mind, your subconscious will not let you move forward unless you balance the equation.
The most difficult way to become successful is by attempting to achieve everything on your own. If you desire long-term success at whatever you do, you can only get (and stay) there with the help of other people. Only by focusing on the other person will you be able to give without expecting to receive. Help other people, without expectation, and you help yourself on the road to success.
To Our Success!