By Justin Gates
One of our “Knightly Agreements” is Generosity. We seek to be generous in our daily interactions with the people in our world, within our sphere of influence. This doesn’t just mean giving money, food, clothes, or other things of value. Being generous to others also means being kind with our words and actions. It means doing things for others because they may be in a tough spot, physically, mentally, or spiritually. The goal is to set ourselves up so that we are able to do these things for others, whether they are friends, family, or strangers.
We seek to better ourselves to do these things without seeking a reward or anything else in return. This part is the hardest part of it all for many of us.
“I am kind and generous, always giving what I can afford to those who need it more. Being kind and taking the highroad can be difficult. Just remember that a Knight is one who serves and gives what they can to serve a greater good beyond the self.”
You would think that being generous to the ones we love the most would be the easiest, I would have thought that. At least until today after a confrontation with this person regarding an issue that I was helping them with…
Someone very close to me, about 3 weeks ago was involved in an incident that caused a great deal of damage to property and their well-being physically and mentally. They called, I came running. They needed comfort and guidance, I dropped everything and provided. In the weeks that followed, I changed my life around to accommodate their every need and took care of sensitive and uncomfortable issues that followed.
I didn’t ask or expect anything in return for doing any of these things, so why did I get upset today? (more on this in a minute) After all, this person had done more things for me than I could ever count or realize. I am grateful for them and in truth; this makes it easier to reciprocate that kindness and generosity most of the time.
There was an altercation with this person that was in regards to one of these issues I was helping them with. It was small and silly (as most altercations seem to stem from) and it blew up, words were said by both that were unnecessary, disrespectful, and hurtful. I was upset and offended by the audacity of this person who relied so heavily on me for the past 3 weeks to become so disrespectful and unappreciative!
To be honest, the reason I was so offended and hurt by this person’s actions towards me is that I was looking for something in return subconsciously, even if it was simple respect and acknowledgment of what I was doing for them. The quote above is from a series of statements that I wrote a few years ago, a statement of intent for my personal path and progression. I don’t believe in excuses, and I strive very hard to not use them in life. I certainly was not keeping in mind my own advice and I am not going to sit here and BullS*** you or myself.
For a moment, it made me want to not help this person anymore, no matter what! Forgetting everything they have done for me in the past. Forgetting all of the things I have done for them and they were grateful. As if a thousand good things could be destroyed by a few careless words or actions of a person who happens to be on the receiving end of the giving.
Many years ago, David, Charles, and I did a show called “The Pitfalls of helping others” in where we listed 10 or so things to be aware of when helping others. In that show, David was explaining that he understood that when helping others, he wasn’t truly altruistic. He said that while he was helping others, he was helping himself too…it was a win-win for both. There was going to be some kind of mutual gain, even if it was to feel good.
While recognizing that this is a truth, at least in my world and perspective, it doesn’t mean that I can’t strive to be better, to work on taking the “High Road” in my day to day dealings with people, those I love and those I don’t even know. This is a lesson that I will look back on until my memory fails me someday.
So how do we become perfect gracious and generous people? I don’t think we do. The point is to recognize when we are not living up to our ideals, make the necessary adjustments, amends, and move on, working each day to be better than yesterday. Understanding that those we are helping may not show us gratitude for the things we do for them, and understanding that it is not the end of the world. Letting the people in our lives know how grateful we are for them, working to be more grateful towards ourselves and our lives will also go a long way in being happy.
Even the greatest among us make mistakes. We tend to judge ourselves more by our defeats than our victories. Do not relish in either. Learn from both and move on.