The key to a fulfilled life is unconditional giving.
Think about all the interactions that surround us throughout most of our day. It could be helping out colleagues at work, helping out your loved one to cook dinner or agreeing to watch after your friend’s kids while he goes out. We do most of these things out of free will, but we still expect to get something in return. Even when not immediately, then the thought is in the back of our heads.
What if that’s the same reason why those small tasks often feel so exhausting to us. It would be much more pleasant to just watch TV in the evening.
What would happen if you tried giving without expecting anything in return?
It could be to anyone. But I believe strangers work best as you do not even know whether you will ever see them again.
During the last week, I gave three talks at my former high school. I was invited to speak to current high school students and tell them about my experiences living and studying abroad.
Now, I did not know any of these students. In fact, I am fairly sure if I saw them again on the street I would not recognize them. Still, I accepted the invitation without any hesitation.
Why waste hours of my time you might ask.
Well, first of all, I love talking about myself (who doesn’t) and this is a perfect opportunity to share my story with other young and enthusiastic people.
Personally, I also love my high school. Super good memories, which is not very often the case for other people. I feel like my high school really accelerated my learning curve and taught me how to dream big and aim high. It is a wonderful gift. And I feel it is my duty to help other people find that gift so that they could be happy and successful in the future.
And finally, I know in what situation they are in at the moment. No clue what to do, what to study or which dreams to pursue. I was in the same spot. Now that I have overcome some of those questions I am in the best position to share my advice and experience. Honestly, if I was able to encourage even one person out of the hundred something pupils I talked to decide to study abroad or pursue bigger dreams, I would feel good. I might never know whether I had an effect on any of them long-term, but I sure gave my best.
I have to admit that I have not felt myself that good in a long time. Just coming alive and putting on a show in front of those pupils, discussing their current ideas, answering their questions and giving advice for the future. Luckily, I believe they also enjoyed the experience. After one of my talks, one of the students went straight to the headmaster and told her she had just had the most inspiring lesson ever. When I heard back about that feedback, I was even happier.
I could go on and on, but it seems quite clear to me that unconditional giving truly does make me happy. I also believe that being in such state of mind is extremely motivating and puts me in a really high-energy state of mind. I felt really good the whole rest of the day after the talks.
Now, you do not have to audition in front of a class (although why not?), but there are countless other opportunities in life where we can just give. It could on the street, in the shop, at work or anywhere else.
And giving can be much more than just materialistic. You even do not have to give your whole hour. How about giving 10 people today your genuine smile. Or a compliment.
You see someone walking on the street and get into eye contact with them. Smile (not in a creepy way). I am sure other people will be very positively surprised and you do not only make their days better, but you will also make your day better. Guaranteed.
One day at a time, one person at a time, one small gift at a time. Let’s practice the art of giving. Giving to others, giving to yourself.
There is so much to win and nothing to lose. Let’s start today!