A couple of weeks ago, you might remember me posting a couple pictures of some frames I put together of Maya and her friend, Alex, of pictures of them hugging at their last basketball game together. It was actually a picture they asked me to take of them because it was a tradition they had after team huddle and right before the game started.
I somehow managed to totally nail it and ended up with one of those pictures that somehow looks better than the event actually looked in real life. And, I got some really nice frames for them to put up in their bedrooms when they part next year as Maya heads off to college. I wanted it to be really special for them, and I was really excited about surprising them with it. I pictured it in my head all day: I’d have Alex swing by since she only lives 5 minutes from us, I’d have them open both of their gifts that I worked so hard on wrapping perfectly for them, and I’d get to see how excited they were that they had this great little token to remember each other and their basketball experience by.
When I asked Maya if Alex could come over soon, she was all over me with, “Why??? Do you have a surprise for her? Can I guess what it is? Can I just open mine when I get home and then she can do hers another night?”
“NO!!! I WANT TO SURPRISE BOTH OF YOU…but, NOW you KNOW what I got you, don’t you?”
“Is it a frame of us hugging at the last game?”
And, right there I realized what was happening. I realized that I wasn’t just trying to do something nice for them, I was trying to make myself feel good by doing something nice for someone else.
I was being selfish.
The whole initial point of the picture frames was to do something nice for them, not for me. But, me letting myself get frustrated that my plan wasn’t going to unfold precisely how I had envisioned it would was starting to bother me and, if I didn’t fix my attitude soon, would start bothering Maya, too.
I decided I wasn’t going to take something that was initially supposed to make these two other people so happy, and turn it into a situation where Maya was frustrated and mad at me for not just letting her open her gift a little before Alex and letting her give Alex her gift on her own without me.
It was never supposed to be something for me, it was supposed to be for them.
I think it happens more often than not that we start out wanting to do something nice for someone else, but it spirals a little out of control and starts heading down the road of us doing something for ourselves, instead.
Acts of kindness and generosity are most genuine and real when you can keep yourself focused on the recipient of the good deed, instead of other people…or, yourself.
If the point is to make someone else happy, you should constantly be asking yourself if the way you’re going about it is doing that: making them happy.