It Begins with a Selfless Heart
Ricardo didn’t think twice about it. After explaining to him the series of events in the previous days, he was genuinely concerned, but also incredibly thankful that we had made the trip to surprise him. Knowing what we had just been through, he was more than willing to help make sure the rest of our trip would pass with a number of memories.
For many, it may not seem like much, but Ricardo’s actions over the next 18 hours are examples we should all take to heart. Simple, yet meaningful, his giving mentality is like that of no other and something to be valued by all whom he has touched with his generosity.
After helping Ricardo on the family farm, he welcomed us into his home. And then the home of his sister. And then the home of another family member. And finally, back into his home. Jessica and I basically showed up on his doorstep unannounced. What did he do? He dropped everything he had planned, and selflessly made time to be with us. In your own life, could you imagine what would happen if you just showed up on a friend’s doorstep – thousands of miles away and without warning?
That evening, Ricardo invited us to ‘desayunar’ (eat breakfast) with his family the following morning. Again, a simple and selfless act, but one that came from the heart. While eating our eggs, beans, and tortillas (typical breakfast), without hesitation, Ricardo gave us his digital camera. He knew what we had been through, but more importantly, he wanted to make sure that we could capture all the special moments throughout the remainder of our trip.
And so I got to thinking, here is someone whom has virtually nothing to give, but yet he finds a way to give in a way in which most people wouldn’t. How does he do it? Why does he choose to do so? What does it mean to him? After some thought, I believe it boils down to the following three points.
People who give with a selfless heart, give because…
- It fulfills the needs of another individual or group and not the wants of your own heart – Without concern for how it will make you feel, the focus is on how this will enhance the life of someone else or a group of people. In other words, it’s not something you want for yourself, but rather something that will benefit others.
- There is an unexplainable joy in knowing that you provided something that wouldn’t be possible without having done so – Because you gave food to the homeless man on the corner, he can now eat. Because you adopted a child, you gave a home to a kid whom may otherwise been left without parents who cared. And quite honestly, it warms your heart in having done so.
- They understand that giving of items and ‘things’ isn’t meaningful, but rather the action of giving – What you give is not of importance. At the end of the day, things are just things, and they are not going to make a difference in the grand scheme of it all. You will never be judged on what you gave, but rather how you gave it and why you gave it.
To give with a selfless heart means that you exhibit these traits. Instead of giving ‘things’, learn to give with your heart. When this is done, then the true essence of giving is understood. Giving to others is difficult enough, but learning to give selflessly is a continuing effort. So, how do you learn to give over and over? You do it repetitiously, and you do it with a self-second mentality.
It Continues With a Self-Second Mentality
Giving is not easy. Our culture is of the asking mentality, whether it’s money, donations, gifts, or even time. It’s easy to begin questioning where you draw the line. If you attend church, do you tithe regularly? The last time you were asked for a donation for a fundraiser, did you pull out your wallet without hesitation? When asked to attend a birthday party, did you find the cheapest gift you could find? And the after school program that asked you to volunteer, did you commit to an hour once a month to mentor kids?
Give, give, give. And when you thought you have given all that you could, someone else seems to be knocking at your door for something more. It can be difficult to constantly answer the door, and I’m not saying that it is needed on every occasion. But when you do answer the door, in the back of your mind are you thinking how this will affect you? Or, rather are you thinking how this will affect the person who has asked.
Ricardo could have just as easily held onto his camera. No one forced him to let us borrow it for the remainder of our trip. But unlike so many others, Ricardo placed his own interests aside and placed the needs of someone else in front of his own. If it weren’t for this simple action, then I would not have been able to capture some incredible moments over the days that would follow.
The next time you are asked to make a donation for a fundraiser, will you be thinking about how if you donate the last $10 in your wallet then you won’t be able to buy lunch the next day? If so, then you are displaying a self-second mentality and you will find difficulties getting to a place of giving with a selfless heart. Instead, if you find yourself thinking about how the last $20 in your wallet will erase a little bit of debt from medical bills for a family in need, then you see the bigger picture.
It Ends Without Reservations or Contingencies
The bigger picture is only possible with repeated acts of selfless giving. Time and time again. As selfless, repetitious giving is mastered, the final element will prove whether or not the heart is truly in the act. Are you giving without any reservations or contingencies? In other words, are you asking, what will I be getting in return. If you find yourself asking this question, then it’s time for an ego-check and really decide whether or not you have an others-first mentality.
There is no expectation of a returned favor, being paid back, or a gift in return. The satisfaction and joy of what you gave is enough to sustain you. It is the driving force in what will help move from a model of giving to a lifestyle of selfless giving. We are all blessed beyond measure, with the resources to give frequently. If Ricardo can give when he has nothing to give, then why can’t we give when we have so much?
As we strive to be better, happier people, I ask you to remember this:
“It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving. –Mother Teresa”
Give with your heart. Give time and time again. Give without reservation. Do these three things and you have given selflessly.
(Author’s Note: This photo was taken after a morning hike to a mirador, overlook, that looks down on the village of Nebaj. Thanks to Ricardo, this picture was possible.)