Selfish and Selfless

Lately, I have been questioning why I choose to perform good deeds. Is it because I am expecting something in return? Or is it out of pure kindness and generosity? I would like to say that I help others without expectations, but I know that isn’t entirely true. Nonetheless, I think that there are very few people who do good deeds without having any expectations. I believe that I mainly do good out of kindness, however there is a tiny part of me that can’t help but to expect some good in return.

When my cousin came to America for the first time, I dropped everything I was doing in order to make him feel at home. Imagine being a teenage girl for just a moment and voluntarily giving up your room. Now if you are imagining right, you would know that a teenage girl’s room is her sanctuary. I not only gave up my room, but catered to all his needs, such as going to the city on a daily basis and sitting in a restaurant for hours explaining to my cousin that they didn’t have cheeseburgers because it was breakfast time. My cousin had a rather strange fetish with this greasy meal and would eat it everywhere we went. I dare you to even imagine sitting at a restaurant trying to comfort an almost teenage boy that has become so distraught that cheeseburgers are unavailable with a straight face. I continued to remain hospitable towards my cousin, although he often made it difficult with scenarios similar to that incident.

I was unaware that I would see him again in approximately five years when my family would visit him, but I assumed he would return the favor. During my visit, my family stayed with my grandparents, so I knew that he would be unable to perform the same deeds as me. Keeping that in mind, I expected to him to help me feel at home for he of all people should know that it is hard to adjust to a new environment. However, he did the complete opposite when I came to Germany. I mean sure he would sit in the same room as me, but he wouldn’t give me a second glance, or even greet me for that matter. It was like I wasn’t even there. It seemed as if the cheeseburger fanatic had become too cool to treat his cousin with respect. I always found it funny and hurtful how he expressed more emotion for a fatty food than for his own blood visiting after several years. I tried to act like it didn’t bother me, but I will admit that it really did because I expected him to do the same thing that I did when he came to my home. This made me question what motivated me to be so kind to him. Did I do it for myself? Or did I do it for him?

I think that as people, we can’t help but have that thought or feeling that the favor should be returned, but as individuals, we can choose if we want to pursue those thoughts and feelings, or take another path and act on different intentions. I believe that there are two kinds of good; the selfish and the selfless. The selfish good is when people do good just to get something in return. On the other hand, selfless good is when people do good completely out of kindness, not thinking about the favor being returned. I am trying to avoid even thinking about getting something in return and just act on an impulse. I personally like the feeling I get after doing good just solely from the action itself. I chose to stray away from being kind in order to receive good, but there will always be that small part, deep within me, that will hope that the favor will be returned. However, now I will perform good out of kindness and not dwell on having good cast upon me.

Next time I see my cousin, I will treat him the way I always treated him, I will not expect that he will return anything I do for him. I will do what I want to do for people, because I believe that good should be motivated by good intentions, not expectations.


  1. mathdelimoux

    That’s very kind of you to do such good things. I tended to treat others better than I treat myself.
    But I learned with years, that making good made me feel good, only when I respected myself.
    If you do good, and the people don’t express they appreciate, just stop with that people. There are thousands of other people who need your help, who you can help, who will show they gratitude, who deserve your help

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