Sometimes we might feel that good actions we do, efforts we make, love we give and the like is not recognized. Sometimes people take our support, our help, our kindness for granted – and we might feel bitter when we are in need and people that we have helped before are letting us down. The cynical saying comes to mind:
“People will remember your good actions and your help. They will not forget. They will remember you next time they need help”.
A couple of weeks ago I was in that kind of mood, was feeling I have invested much in many friendships and was living in a world where there is not much appreciation or thankfulness. Just only a very few moments later I got a text message from a stranger I met on a plane a couple of month ago. It was her first time to travel to the United States. I helped her with some of the forms you have to fill out, comforted some trouble relating to fear of flying long distance in a plane for the first time and gave some – so I thought – random small advices from my first experience long time ago when I was flying to the US for the first time.
Anyway, many month later while contemplating bitterness I got a short message saying thanks for my help. Both my help and my advices about do’s and don’t in the US were, so I was told, incredibly helpful. I realized that in that situation I was just helping without any thoughts about ‘investments’, payoffs, returns etc. If you help a stranger you might exchange business cards but usually you never meet again. And usually people don’t take the time to text ‘thank you’.
So maybe the things I was complaining about the time I got the message where not caused by a lack of appreciation of real self-less help, but because very often – sometime even without you noticing it – helping others is in fact linked to expectations. “People should return the favor, they should maybe at least acknowledge”.
True, there are people who only take without giving. True, there are people who exploit the readiness of others without returning favors. But I guess it is also true that bitterness is not the right reaction. I guess it also true that real help is not connected to any thoughts about “pay off” – and if you are disappointed you should not only think about blaming others but also question your motivation. After having done that you can still blame others 🙂 as long as you realize: You don’t give in order to take. You should be happy if you can help and make a difference. Calculations will only come back to you. They come back at you in the form of bitterness.
Random acts of kindness to strangers you never see again, helping because you can and want to help, are and should be our best motivations. And guess what, sometimes you get a short thank you note, and that can make your day :).
These things came back to my mind while stumbling upon this great blog: http://gooddeedsareeasy.wordpress.com. You can find many many inspiring ideas there for acts of kindness, simple things that make a difference. There are so many times a day where we can help others. Just because we can help. Not because we might profit! A great blog to follow and great ideas to contemplate.