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Compassion: No Return Address Needed

tunnelWhy do we have it in our heads that we’ll only help another person out if we get something back in return. Maybe it’s because at the core we always need to get something back for survival. Or maybe it’s because as kids, if you want a toy that another kid has you learn to ask for it, but it often works better if you have something to trade. Fast forward to adulthood, we’re happy to help others out, as long as we get something back. Unfortunately, the mentality of expecting something back drives mental and social dis-ease. However, if we understand at a deep level that when we give without being attached to any expectation of getting return, we get so much more, true happiness.

All research points to the reality that when we do things for other people as an act of altruism or compassion, we feel happier.

Recently a report came out saying that being compassion reduces inflammation in our body at a cellular level. Inflammation is connected to all kinds of mental and physical dis-eases.

Why can’t we get it in our heads that we are all connected and that helping another person even if you don’t get a “thank you” raises that person up and because we’re all connected it actually raises us up too?

Why don’t we understand that this same rule applies to animals and nature? When we take better care of the animals and environment on this planet that elevates the energy we are sending out and since we’re all connected, elevates us too.

More often now I see leaders in their respective fields pointing to the fact that we are not islands and are far more connected than we seem.

It’s time to take responsibility for the energy that we are putting out there day to day. When we know what we value and act in accordance with those values we feel a strong sense of integrity. Just like a building with strong integrity, it makes us much harder to push over, we are far more resilient.

It doesn’t matter whether we get something back from somebody or not, we get back just by giving, I promise.

But don’t take my word for it, go ahead and see what compassion means to you in your life. In The Now Effect I quote Thich Nhat Hanh saying “Compassion is a Verb.” What does it look like as an action? Are there people, animals or part of the environment you are interested in helping out with.

What do you notice when you act in accordance with that value without expectation of return?

Allow your experience to be your teacher.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Kindness image available from Shutterstock.

Compassion: No Return Address Needed

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is creator of the six month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind, the premier eCourse Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program, the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations. Join The Now Effect Community for free Daily Now Moments and a Weekly Newsletter. Dr. Goldstein is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles.

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APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2013). Compassion: No Return Address Needed. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Oct 2013
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