Have you ever done a kind deed simply for the sake of giving without any strings attached or payback considered? Have you given away something of value to a stranger or given of your time without expecting any financial reward? These are just a few examples of practicing the art of giving without attachment. What does giving without attachment really mean and why should you cultivate this practice?
The very definition of giving, freely transfer the possession of (something) to (someone) has an inherently detached quality. There is an innate sense of letting go, the opposite of hoarding or holding on. But how often is our giving calculated? Well if I babysit for a friend, she/he will do the same for me. Giving without any expectation of outcome or praise is tough, but that is the essence of giving without attachment. Giving to grow your heart, to release your grip, to become liberated from that which you hold on to.
How does giving without strings liberate and grow your ability to love and to live a more meaningful life? It connects you to your humanity, to your empathy, to your ability to see the suffering in others and feel something. Giving also helps you to step outside your sphere and to connect with others on a visceral level.
Giving without attachment is a wonderful way to help you accept when others give to you. Often, our childhood dictates a message of receiving that it’s better to give than receive, but if everyone is clamoring to give, who is receiving? That message sends a negative image that receiving is for the poor, the needy, the weak, and the unsuccessful. We all have times in our life when we want to receive. Giving without attachment helps us to receive without feeling guilty or shamed.
Anne Frank, a diarist and one of the most talked about victims of the Holocaust once said, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” It is often difficult in the modern world to remember this. When you give, it does not have to be a thing or financial, (you can give of your time, your silent presence, a smile) you reap the internal rewards of connection, joy, and self esteem. Giving builds character and helps you get outside of your own needs and desires and consider others. When you give freely, you teach yourself a lesson in being unconditional.
Giving without attachment does not mean giving everything away and doing without. It may entail digging a little deeper than merely skimming off the top. If you only give away your excess, you may want to look at other ways you can give. Become a mentor. Take a friend to lunch, just because or send a card without an occasion. Bake a dinner for a charity event, make an anonymous donation to a cultural or educational organization or slip a bill to a homeless person.
Think of all the people in your life that have given something to you without any expectation. There are countless ways to pass on that giving tradition, and when you begin to drop the attachments and expected outcomes, you send a ripple of hope into the world, while expanding your ability to be a loving considerate human being.