”Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.”
Room 25: Give Anonymously
Don’t Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
It’s not the worse thing to want a pat on the back once in awhile—to get credit where credit is due. I mean what’s wrong with a little validation and kind words for the good and noble stuff we do? The short answer, nothing. Isn’t that how cancer wings and gymnasiums are built?
We all want to feel as if what we do makes a contribution to the world around us. The problem arises when we give too much attention to the thank you and not enough to the gift, or when we we believe we are contributing only if it’s acknowledged.
Now, we can pretend we don’t care about being thanked—that we give for the pure love of giving—but, let’s be real. That’s not always the case, is it?
Be honest, how do you feel when you give something that is not in some way reciprocated? Not even a smile, a nod, an “aw, you shouldn’t have?” Something?
If not indignant, we get ticked, hurt, annoyed, or at the very least annoyed that we’re annoyed in the first place. There’s something unsettling about it all.
And, the truth is, to a degree, it does matter.
To every outflow, there should be an inflow. And an unreciprocated gesture, if repeated often enough, can become a good indicator of a relationship that is out of balance. We should notice. On the other hand, being bothered by an unreciprocated gesture can just as easily be an indicator of a gift that is out balance—a gift given for the wrong reason.
That is what we’re talking about today.
While thank you will always be an important sign of gratitude and appreciation, it’s needing the thanks and only working for the thanks that keeps us in the same room, all while diminishing the power of our gift in the first place.
At the end of the day, what matters is that we helped, that we got involved, that we wanted to make a difference in our own unique way.
And, of course, what really matters is that we come to understand that it is far more liberating if our thanks comes—not from outside ourselves—but from within. To know that our thanks comes from the higher part of our true Self—the Self that gives not for reward, but as a silent gift to the universe.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to lose that feeling, and not because we’re selfish or narcissistic, but because we often forget what it is to like to give for the pure joy of giving.
Today, we reclaim that feeling.
Room 25: Give Anonymously
First of all, anonymous giving is neither better nor worse than any public contribution you make. It’s just a different experience…a different way to share…a new room.
So, if you’re already contributing to the world in your own way, keep at it. But, in addition to that, we also want to use this week to find as many alternative ways to give anonymously as we can.
And, while I hate to generalize, I have a suspicion that this is often a tougher lesson for men. I know it is for me. I think by nature women give more selflessly than men. As Virginia Wolf once wrote, “For most of history, anonymous was a woman.”
Bottom line, most women don’t need to tell the world about everything they do.
If you followed my wife around for the course of a day, you’d realize how much she does that she never mentions. And she doesn’t brag about it either, she just does it, living up to one of her favorite expressions, which is appropriately enough, “saying ain’t doing.”
Now me, on the other hand, if I do something, you better believe I’m tweeting about it. I want the whole world to know that I spent the last seven minutes sweeping the leaves off my neighbor’s driveway. It’s no surprise I recently bought a leaf blower.
In any case, it’s the credit we aim to lose this week, while at the same time adopting that quiet service I admire so much in my wife. It is the power of the anonymous gift…also known as love.
Now, what you do this week doesn’t matter as much as how you do it. Whether you stuff envelopes at your kids school or help your elderly neighbor with some gardening, the challenge will be to do it anonymously. Whether you volunteer at a homeless shelter, babysit for someone who can’t afford it, or pay for someone’s meal without them knowing, the joy will come from you knowing that you made someone’s life better, not from the world knowing you did.
So, go out and do what you can. Give…and give anonymously.
Leave a kind note for a gifted waiter you’ll never see again, pick up trash in the park, compliment a hard worker to their boss, donate your old clothes, buy someone a cup of coffee, give an inspirational book to a friend, write an anonymous thank you, put flowers on a co-workers desk, coins in someone else’s parking meter.
The more you do, the more you’ll find to do. And do it all anonymously.
Of course, I realize that in some of these cases, people will know we’re doing something for them. That’s okay, too. Not everything can be completely anonymous. But, in our hearts, there are no strings attached and we expect nothing in return.
And when we finish the job, we don’t need to broadcast our nobleness on Facebook. We can just walk away and let our contribution join hands with the collective contributions of every one else on the planet.
No need to talk about it.
After all, “saying ain’t doing.” Doing is doing…and, with an anonymous touch, it’s a silent gift we give to both ourselves and the universe.