To Expect Nothing In Return

“Perhaps the hardest lesson to learn is not to be attached to the results of your actions.” ~ Joan Borysenko, The Ways of the Mystic … 

Many of us have become fixated on results in our lives–results of our work, results of our studies, results of our investments, results of our interactions with others and the world around us, results of our generosity, results of our advice, and so many other things that we put our time, energy, and resources into. And perhaps rightly so… after all, society tends to judge us by what comes out of our work, and not necessarily the work itself. However, when we become overly concerned with results, we can begin to slide into the realm of wanting things to always turn out the way that we intended them to, with very little room for ambiguity or contradiction, and this can set us up for much misery and disappointment later on in our lives.

Perhaps you felt disappointed when something you had given to someone was not used how you had intended for it to be used or in line with how you believed is should be used, such as mishandling of money you had gifted. Or maybe you felt upset when someone did not express enough appreciation or gratitude for a kindness they bestowed. I have personally been guilty of both looking for and expecting results in many actions throughout my life. For instance, valuable time spent writing an application can quickly become frustrating when the work that I am putting into it is not turning out how I envisioned it would.

However, one of the most helpful things I have discovered in life is the importance of letting go of results. And while it is not always easy or first nature, and often times leads to the unfamiliar, I have come to realize that everything I do does matter in some way. And by walking away and not looking for specific results, or expecting things to fit my agenda, I can move on to the next task without building up stress or becoming frustrated.

We should tolerate the opinions, behaviors, and actions of others because we would wish for them to do the same for us. Perhaps the next time you give someone money, do not tell them how to spend it. Or when you offer up your advice, pay no heed to how they receive it. Because if you do, and they spend it in a different way or take a different course of action, you most likely will end up stressed out because they did not meet your expectations. Instead, live and let live. Do something nice for others and do it in a way that they will never know who did it. Offer your time and energy without expecting to receive any thanks. In time, you will begin to see the true joy of giving–a joy that is not dependent upon results.

Do something for another today without expecting or receiving anything in return. You will never feel disappointment when you expect nothing.

Questions to consider:

Why do we feel that results are so important? Are they really?

How might you practice the art of letting go of your need to see results?

Which results are most important for you to have come out just as you want them to come out? How often do they come out that way? What would happen if they came out in other ways?

For further thought:

“One has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when one plants shade trees under which one knows full well one will never sit.” ~ David Elton Trueblood, The Life We Prize


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Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

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