How Selfless Are You, Really?


Do you truly think you’re selfless? I bet most of us think we are, but in reality we might not be. A true act of selflessness is when you perform an act of kindness without any regard for yourself or your own interest.

Meaning that after you paid for coffee for that dude in Starbucks, you don’t blast it on Facebook.

It’s acting in total anonymity.

It’s not letting the world know that you are this great person because you did this great thing.

It’s not looking for the pat on the back, because you performed a “Random Act of Kindness.”

I always thought I was a selfless person, or acted as a selfless person, but my eyes were opened when I was in a conversation with some co-workers. I was about 27 at the time and my co-workers and were talking how one of them helped a friend who was having a hard time, and how selfless she was (she actually used that term).

Four out of five of us completely hopped on the band wagon, patted her on the back and nodded in total agreement, until my colleague Kari jumped in and eloquently explained that it wasn’t really an act of selflessness if she is telling us about her wonderful deed – it may have been a nice gesture but by no means was it selfless.

I was blown away. Here all along I thought I knew what selfless meant, and that I was this selfless person.

I can honestly tell you that I contemplated this incident for a good 10 years.  Every time I performed a good deed and wanted to brag – even to myself – I thought of that conversation. And some days I bragged and other days, I didn’t.

It’s human nature to want to help. And I truly believe it’s human nature to want to receive accolades for helping. It’s also human nature to want to be part of the big picture, for helping our world especially in this day and age (oh yes I said it, I did, I am now my Aunt Grace) when our world seems so crippled.

And I totally get that – who wouldn’t want to be acknowledged for at least trying to make this world, in this day and age, a better place?

I get it.

I so get it.

But I didn’t really get it. Because I haven’t been completely successful at keeping my mouth shut about the kind deeds that I performed.

It wasn’t until a month or two ago when I saw a true act of selflessness right before my eyes.

Unbeknownst to him, I saw my 10-year-old go completely and utterly out of his way to help another human being.  A pretty big thing too.  And yes, he has done these things in the past, but this act was purely selfless, without any regard for himself or the extra playing time he’d get on Minecraft – if he did something for me, his brother, dad, grandmother, whomever or whatever bribe I threw at him.

I witnessed true selflessness.

He had no other intent other than to truly help another person without wanting anything in return.

And that was when Kari’s message truly sunk in.

17 years later.

I was in awe of his actions, but more importantly, his ability to not regard himself during or after his true act of kindness, not to say “I did that for you, now do this for me” or to even inform me of what he did. If I wasn’t at the right place at the right time, I would have never known.

The love that he showed me from his action will fill my heart forever.

And Kari … I am forever thankful for that.



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