Selflessness is giving something or doing something for someone else without expecting anything. Even the smallest selfless act can make a positive difference in the world.
But being selfless is not always easy. When we give some of our money, time, or attention to someone else, we often expect to get something in return.
The good news is that learning to be more selfless is possible. It all starts with developing empathy for others instead of focusing on what we could gain from being kind and generous. Let’s learn how to be more selfless in your everyday life:
1. Practice patience and empathy
When we get impatient and lose our temper, it’s often because we are not getting what we want when we want it.
Trying to be more patient helps shift your perspective. It helps you understand that everyone around you is doing their best and that you can’t expect them to do what you want them to at all times.
Similarly, practicing empathy will also help you be more selfless. If you find it difficult to identify with others, stop and make an effort to imagine how you would feel and what you would do if you were in their situation.
Being more patient and empathetic will surely motivate you to be more selfless.
2. Do something kind for a stranger whenever you can
No one expects you to try to save the world. But if you manage to do something kind for a stranger whenever you can, you will help make the world a better place.
Here are just a few examples of selfless acts you could do:
- Hold a door open for someone
- Smile at everyone you meet
- Help someone reach something on a high shelf at the grocery store
- Let someone skip ahead of you if they are buying fewer items than you are
- Help a stressed coworker work on a project
- Help an old lady cross the street safely
- Visit lonely seniors in a nursing home
3. Volunteer a few hours of your time
Being selfless doesn’t have to cost you anything. If you can volunteer a few hours of your time each week, or even just each month, you will be giving back to your community by helping people in need.
Indeed, you could volunteer to feed the hungry in a soup kitchen, care for dogs in a shelter, clean up a local park, or help organize an event in your neighbourhood.
Local organizations always look for volunteers, and there is much to do. Your contribution will be appreciated.
4. Donate items you don’t need anymore
If you have clothes and items, you don’t want or don’t need anymore, you could sell them. Or you could do something more selfless and donate them to a charitable organization in your community.
Many charities need clothing, shoes, kitchenware, toys, blankets, and small pieces of furniture.
Your donations will make a difference for people in need, and all you will get in return is the knowledge that you have done something good for someone you don’t know and will never meet.
Alternatively, you could buy food and hygiene essentials and donate them to a homeless or women’s shelter.
5. Donate money to different causes
If you have the financial means to donate money to different causes, doing it regularly will make you more selfless. Find a cause you are passionate about and support their work and their mission with meaningful donations.
Think about donating to a mission and service fund, a homeless shelter, an animal shelter, or a food bank. You can also donate to an organization that supports veterans or a children’s hospital. Another worthwhile cause is the mission and service fund from United Church of Canada.
6. Try to be more available for your loved ones
Being selfless is not just about helping people you don’t know. You can be more selfless by making efforts to be more available and more present for your family and your friends.
Keep in touch with your loved ones, and tell them you appreciate them. Lend them a helping hand whenever you can, and let them know you are there for them if they need support or if they need to talk.
We are often so busy that we forget to care for the most important people in our lives. Of course, you should also take good care of yourself, so you can have more energy to be present for others.
7. Practice active listening to become a better listener
Sometimes, we can help others by offering them some advice. But there are times when people just want to be listened to and don’t want to hear any advice or suggestions.
Allowing your loved ones to vent when needed is a selfless act. But be sure to practice active listening instead of listening to them while figuring out what you will say next. Listen to what they are saying without interrupting them.
Being a great listener is even easier when we develop patience and empathy.