A wise man (also known as a friend of mine) says he faces at least 20 forks in the road each day. How do you decide which direction to take at each crossroads?
In his words:
Pick the path that means more for someone else and less of yourself.*
This is not to say that you allow yourself to be stomped on, crushed, ignored and forgotten. Rather, if there is a benefit to someone else, it is very likely that should be the choice you make, even if you walk away with no apparent reward.
Completely counterintuitive. What about getting ahead, stepping atop others to attain success? I looked at him a bit skeptically across the table.
My mother came and sat down on my bed right after I pulled the covers up to my chin. “I have something I want to talk to you about.”
I sat up.
“I’ve been thinking this for awhile. You are too nice.”
“Huh?!” my high school self exclaimed.
“You are too nice,” said my mother. “You will be taken advantage of, if you haven’t already. You need to be more selfish. Your dad and I have discussed this. Stop being so nice.”
I fell back onto the bed in disbelief.
As my friend and I unpacked this concept, I realized that my parents and I were both wrong.
As painful as it is to admit, there have been too many ulterior motives in my kindnesses. Was I really offering to cook a meal for a family because I genuinely felt the burden of a newborn child? Well, yes and no, because I have never raised an infant. However, there is a tiny corner of Innae realizing there is some social perk to performing this public deed. I will be viewed as altruistic! I will not be wasting my time! I will be considered a great cook! (highly unlikely) And I will feel good about myself!
Select service, Ted* urges. Give my time, energy, wisdom, all of it away.
He isn’t the only one to say such nonsensical words. Who can forget this?
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
‘Tis the season for giving. Time will tell if I’m ready to make it year-round.
*This is paraphrased. Sorry, Ted.