How many times have you done someone a favor, only to find yourself fuming when it is not reciprocated? All too often, we think we are giving to others without any expectations, but on a deeper level we do want something in return – a reciprocation, a deepened friendship, or even a simple thank-you. However, if our kindness is contingent on a reward, however small, then can we really consider it a good deed?
Being kind for kindness’ own sake can be tremendously rewarding, not only spiritually, but mentally, socially, and physically, as well. Getting into the habit of doing so, however, can be very tricky. One method is to do favors that cannot easily be measured or reciprocated. When we don’t expect a response, we can’t be disappointed when we don’t get one. This makes it easier to concentrate on our own spiritual growth.
Here are 18 ways you can practice altruism without expecting anything in return:
1.Make a homeless care kit. Keep it in your car to hand out when you see someone living on the street.
2.Offer to take a friend’s children to see a kids’ movie, go to the zoo, etc. Pretend you really want to go and need the kids with you as an excuse.
3.Apologize to someone you’ve hurt.
4.Mow your neighbor’s lawn.
5.Let someone vent to you. Act interested and sympathetic, even if you aren’t.
6.Leave quarters at the laundromat.
7.Leave someone a note telling them how special/talented/inspiring they are. Don’t sign your name.
8.Leave a tin of cookies by a neighbor’s front door.
9.Teach someone to do something you are good at.
10.Ask someone to teach you something they are good at.
11.Give your full attention to a small child telling a story. Ask questions and listen until they are done.
12.Give money anonymously to someone who needs it. Never mention it.
13.When someone shares something that makes them feel vulnerable, say “me too.”
14.Learn to change a tire and pack an emergency kit. Next time you see someone stranded on the side of the road, pull over and help them.
15.Give someone the benefit of the doubt – even if they haven’t earned it.
16.Leave double your normal tip.
17.”A warm smile is the universal language of kindness,” said William Arthur Ward. Smile at a stranger.
18.Ask someone with a different viewpoint why they feel that way. Listen, and don’t argue.
Kahlil Gibran once said “I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.” Don’t let your service-induced joy be spoiled by expectations of reciprocation. Practice doing favors that are not easily returned, and giving to those who can’t give back. Soon your focus will shift from being thanked and applauded to the sincere happiness that comes with an altruistic attitude.