I overheard a woman talking the other day about how angry she was because she'd held a door open for another woman who never thanked her. "Just kept talking on her cell phone and breezed right through that door." Her friend remarked, "I hate it when that happens. As if we have nothing better to do than hold the door open for people." The woman nodded enthusiastically. "I know! So you know what I did? I yelled after her, 'You're welcome!'"
I had to smile to myself when I heard this conversation because it used to be one of my biggest pet peeves too. I mean, really, it is very rude to not say thank you. But, still, it begs the question, "What's behind your kindness?" Are you being nice to others for what you'll get back in return? Are we really that tit for tat? I'd like to think not. I try to be nice every day. I try to reach out and help others when I can and what you do or do not do with that kindness is none of my business. I'm nice to people because I like being nice - not because I want to be seen as nice nor because I need to receive that kindness in return -- although that's nice to.
I know the thrill of a "thank you." And it is wonderful, but ultimately that's not why we are supposed to do kind things. Being kind and helping others is for US, not those we help. When we act every day from a place of love, it's we who benefit.
I received an email this week from a woman who wanted to know how she should handle Christmas. "Every year, I buy presents for my family, but they don't buy me anything in return." When I asked her why she continued to buy them presents, she said, "Because I love to!" So I told her to continue doing so and not expect anything in return. "But I can't have them to dinner and hand out gifts to them because that will make them freeloaders." Yikes and that comment will make you sound like Scrooge. We give not to receive. We give simply to give and hopefully to grow in that space of kindness that presents itself whenever we put ourselves in a giving role.
Every time we help someone, give of ourselves to others and share of our time and talents, we remind ourselves that we can do this, that we have the money, time and talent to share. And the more we realize that, the more we grow -- in money, time and talent. Life is a circle. What you give out comes back to you. Like attracts like. If you give with strings attached, you'll receive with strings attached. If you give grudgingly, you'll receive in a very limited capacity. If you feel as though you have nothing to give, you'll receive nothing.
Picture a circle of kindness -- a beautiful rainbow of ever changing and free flowing energy -- and place yourself in that circle. Then say, "I joyfully open my arms to receive my good so that I may share freely with others. Use me, dear God, to do your will today and every day."
And when you find yourself in a position to give, surrender all expectation of how that kindness will be received. And remember -- when you give to others, it's you who receives.