Do everything with a good heart and expect nothing in return, and you will never be disappointed.
Is it possible to be entirely selfless?
A monk may answer that this is possible, but, human nature being what it is, I believe it is impossible.
That said, working to become as selfless as we may be possible of achieving is truly an aspiration worth your effort in life.
Selfless: concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own; unselfish.
So if we do something on behalf of another, is it fair for us to have an expectation of any kind of response? Again, I would reply that it is fair for us to expect it, but are we truly doing ourselves the greater favor for having such an expectation? I extoll the virtues of such behavior, and when I hold a door for people who are passing through the door at the same time as I, I expect them to acknowledge or say thank you. I am even internally irritated that they do not have the upbringing that causes them to have the courtesy of saying thank you. Is it fair for me to feel that way? Fair? Most certainly, yes! Healthy? Most certainly, no!
Why would it be unhealthy for me to have an expectation of a simple courtesy in exchange for one of my own? Because when they do not reciprocate with said courtesy, I feel cheated. Therein lies the problem. I do something out of kindness and politeness, and in doing so, I seek the reward. A simple acknowledgement that they know I have done them a kindness. They reply with a thank you and I feel good about myself. When they do not reply, I feel cheated and my internal compass changes direction. NEEDLESSLY.
The act of opening the door is the kindness. I know I have done it. That should make me feel good all by itself. I should not need their acknowledgement nor their validation of my kindness. I have already felt that in performing the act of kindness. So, in allowing myself to feel the irritation of their impolite behavior, I have just cheated myself out of my own good feeling. They did not cheat me by not saying it, I am cheating me by having an attitude about it. I am creating my own disappointment.
This simple example can be extrapolated across myriad scenarios, each of which are varying degrees of the same. If we go an extra mile for someone, we want to feel good about it. So we should!!! And nothing should be capable of cheating us of those good feelings. And nothing can…. Except ourselves. We are the ones who ruin such an experience. And we do this by having expectations.
Drop those expectations from your equation and guess what? You still feel good. Even if the other party is impervious to our efforts, we know in our heart that we did a good thing, and that should (and does) feel good.
So the next time you do something incredibly kind out of the goodness of your heart, and you do not get the response that you were hoping for…. Stop yourself right in your tracks and watch those feelings starting to fade and recognize that YOU are the one who is enabling them to fade away, not the other party. They may not have the upbringing to know that they should be responding in a way that communicates their appreciation to you. And… just because they do not communicate this, does not mean that they are not feeling appreciation. Perhaps they are shy or non communicative, or distracted, or so overwhelmed by their own troubles, that they just do not have the bandwidth to add their appreciation of your kindness to their repertoire at that moment.
Kindness and acts of kindness are the essence of life. They surround compassion, empathy, understanding and devotion in ways that are almost inexplicable to most. In watching animals respond to our kindness, or even a tree or flower, we recognize that kindness is the universal currency in life. It is infinite in supply, and interestingly enough, the more you give away, the more you have. (Unless you are attaching expectations to that kindness) in which case you are sabotaging your own efforts.