Nobody gives something for nothing

I believe nobody ever gives something for nothing. There is always a motivating factor that makes us do everything that we do (or make us not do anything). Whenever we do something, we either consciously or subconsciously ask ourselves this question: What's in it for me? Where business relationships and in sexual relationships are concerned, it's quite obvious what that person wants in return. For other situations, what we want may not necessarily be something tangible - it could be peace of mind, a feeling of happiness or to appease our sense of justice.

Would you work for free? Most people won't - they work for money. They might say they work because they like the challenges of the job but really, if they are not paid to do they're quite unlikely to want to do it.

Helping people
Some people volunteer and work for free. But are they getting nothing? They might be getting some work experience and "network" with more people, e.g. It was reported that many youths in Singapore don't volunteer because they don't have friends to do it with. People who volunteer usually do so because of their passion or belief. One such person was Mother Teresa. Did she devote her life to her charitable works so that she can win the Noble Peace prize? Of course not. She did so because she believed she was answering a religious calling. She certainly did not want anything from the people in Calcutta. I think what she wanted was something from God: A place in heaven. If you help others and feel good about it, that itself is something that you get in return.

Raising children
All living things have an innate urge to reproduce. The motivation for parents to have and raise children is to ensure continuation of their genes though they may not consciously think about it.

Love and marriage
A common advice I've heard is "Give and take". Meaning sometimes you give and the other party receives, sometimes you take and the other party receives. If one party receives all the time without giving, I think we all know what's going to happen to the marriage. Even if it goes on for a period of time and it seems like one party is giving in all the time out of "love" without any reciprocation, gratitude or appreciation whatsoever from the other party, do you think that former does not hope to gain anything? I think he/she hopes that in time the other party would love him/her, or is satisfying his/her own belief (in his own principles, social or religious beliefs) that he/she is doing the "right" thing.
E.g. A man gambles away all the family's money and beats his wife. His wife does not leave him but instead goes out to work to earn money to support the family because she feels it's her duty. At the same time, she is religious and does not believe in divorce. Did she do this and expect nothing in return?

What do you think?

Related post:
[Sexual bribery]


Banshee said...

What can I say?

It´s an irretocable post.

As for your question. As you explained above, probably the woman on the example is expecting "righteousness" at some point. She´s willing to fulfill her beliefs, expecting to harvest "recognition/good" at some point.

I think that the philosopher stone of this topic is "will".

St. Augustine and Descartes "will" is related to our "freedom", and determines the extension of our "moral". Once both of them were really catholics, they brought several discussions about the connection between "will", "virtue" and "sin". Also, they both believed that the existence of "will" also excludes third parties responsability of ones actions (including GOD´s responsability).

Philosophy also discuss the "will to power". Nietzche and Schopenhauer believed that "will" is the main driving force in man to achievement.
On that sense, that woman on the example could be moved by the will to be respected, will to follow her beliefs.

But, of course, it’s hard to determine in details what moves us.
Albeit, it’s something we should all exercise in our daily life.

SubZero said...

Agree with you...nothing is free in today's world.

Hayabusa said...

I couldn't agree more. everybody's selfish to a certain extent, no matter how one wants to deny it. the self'll always be part of every decision that's made, & although it may seem some're getting nothing outta what they do, they're still getting something.

Anonymous said...

For honest volunteer work to help others, it comes with passion. Whatever you do, comes from the heart, no expecting anything in return. even if you get, you do not want it. Mother Theresa is one good example. She has been rewarded with a place in heaven, I am not sure if she wants to go heaven and becoz of that does all the good things. I believe she has been rewarded. Allthe things she did comes from her heart ( I believe).

For all others, nothing comes free. I believe everything is done for a purpose. The world is a transactional ground.


Anonymous said...

We lives in this earthly world must accept the fact that what goes up must come down!
You don't expect things to up and away, right?


Shaun said...

I take, you all please give to me.

David said...


Your disucssion topics recieve an amazing range of responses. Very shallow from Anonymous and Shaun, to well thought out from

The concept of giving without expecting anything back reaches a pinnacle with the truest expressions of love. The hypothetical wife, married to the gambler/wife-beater, comes closest to that expression of love. You state this women is religous, that being said is all one needs to know. This women knows that Gods love for His human family is one of God's great gifts to humankind.
The women here goes beyond duty, it is real love that drives her to support her family and not divorce.

Most Christians, such as myself, would like to be more loving. Our intentions are great, but our follow through is often lacking. The real issue is power. We recognize our weakness—the finite and mortal limits of our will, strength, and courage to love others like Jesus has loved us. But God promises us his power to do what he has called us to do. What each person must do is to find that power and turn it loose in ones life!

Divorce is prevalent in modern society. But God is not pleased with divorce. Divorce shatters lives, injures children, and breaks commitments. It adds to instability and insecurity. Divorce is one of current societies great failings.

The women you describe lives a hard life. But love sustains her.

Too often, we buy the lie, the one the serpent hisses.

Speak harsher and it will get better. (More tasks will get accomplished.)

Push harder and it will get better. (More places can get crammed into the hours.)

Bluster longer and it will get better. (More life squeezed into life.)

But don't we know this? "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city ..." (Proverbs 18:19).

The harshness, the blustering, the pushing, offends and we trip.

Knees and elbows smash and we bruise.

It gets harder to get up.

Reach out and gently touch when you talk; make it a practice to always connect before your direct.

Fully listen to conversations with your ears, eyes, whole body language. Smile into eyes.

Make time for walks, a mug of hot chocolate, a chapter of a book read aloud together. There's no better way to spend time than making time.

Fill your words with the affection you feel. Children don't assume they're loved when our words aren't loving.

Tuck in with long talks in the dark, a foot rub, prayers. It's the happiest way to finish a day.

Slow down: the priority is hearts not household tasks. Take a deep breath and preach to yourself often: "I want to be, more than I want to do."

Relationship is not just the priority. It's all there is.

Our family relationships are hallowed. Aren't they forever? (And, yes, true, clean floors and schedules aren't.)

Yu-Kym, every person alive makes choices. When we choose the selfish choice those are often the times when what we gain does not leave us with lasting happiness.

When one gives freely of time, money, goodwill or companionship, you often come away happy and fullfilled. More often than not, when we selflessly give of ourself to others we form lasting bonds that will stand up to the storms that society challenge us.

Of course this is all IMHO.

Best wishings and blessing for your weekend and continued training for the big CLIMP!


Anonymous said...

Yu Kym,

This is my very first time dropping an opinion in your blog, even though i almost completely follow ur every piece of writing.

I have been thinking about this same question which you have brought up in ur blog, regarding the reasons behind everything.

This behavior is indeed very bad and needs a big improvement each of us. I don't agree with people who says we leave in this world, and we have to accept it since we have no choice. Yes, natural disasters such as earthquakes and flood we might have no control over them. Nevertheless, our behaviour, which I would say, needs to be controlled by ourselves (if not, then who else).

People tend to do things only because they want this and that in return. That's why the place we are living in today is becoming more and more selfish. Everyone sees only the benefits they may get in return for their actions. For example, people donate money to charities hoping they will be blessed more, someone who helps an old lady to cross the road hoping to be thanked, etc.

Down to the root of all these insincere helping hands, there are always an anticipated return that we hoped for, whether it's tangible or not.

Is it that difficult for we to just purely, innocently and sincerely care and love each other around us? This question seems easy, but to get it done, it's real tough and it takes a pair of hands to clap. I can't be good to everyone when they are taking advantages of my sincerity for their own good. Therefore, it needs you and me to make it work.

Maybe we can reflect on this phrase as Jesus said "How do you expect yourself to love ME when you can't even show the simplest love to your neighbour whom you can see and feel?"

JB, Malaysia

Yu-Kym said...

Banshee, I agree it's hard to determine what exactly moves us. My friend raised the question: what motivates animals to reproduce? We can never know what they're thinking, if they are. For all we know, they may all have an ultimate goal of annihilating the human race.

Jessie, Whatever actions come "from the heart" serves to satisfy one's own heart. So the rewards Mother Teresa get is satisfaction within her heart. The reward is not tangible, but it exists. I think all Christians want a place in heaven.

David, you mentioned "we gain does not leave us with lasting happiness.", "we form lasting bonds that will stand up to the storms that society challenge us". The happiness and bonds are things that we gain, so we can't say we are being selfless.
About "love", you said "The women here goes beyond duty, it is real love that drives her to support her family and not divorce." Regardless of whether the woman did what she did out of love of God or love of her beliefs about what love should be, I think she gains peace of mind and self-satisfaction in knowing that she is doing the right thing.

Patrick, I agree with your point that we need to work on things that are within our control.
Your question "Is it that difficult for we to just purely, innocently and sincerely care and love each other around us?... it takes a pair of hands to clap." I think it's not difficult - it is impossible! We always want something back, be it a smile, a "thank you", respect, or personal satisfaction. And saying that it takes a pair of hands to clap shows that people do expect something in return.

Banshee said...

Well... in opposition to "will", there´s instict. Of course, instinct is a far harder concept to define and evaluate...