The Art of Giving

Illustrations by Sarah McMenemy
“I’m surrounded by people, but there’s no one I can open up to and share my troubles with… I wish someone could give me the answers I need.”

If this sounds like something you’d say, ask our M.o.M. Suh Yoon! Email us at ask@yoooon.com. We’ll publish the best questions with Suh Yoon’s answers here in YooooN magazine.

 

Q: I carefully read Suh Yoon’s advice about gui-in (a person who brings you good fortune; see Issue 3, Suh Yoon’s Voice). She said that meeting a gui-in would help people quickly and easily get what they want. Reading her advice, I realized there were people around me getting good fortune like that.

My friend Chris, a startup entrepreneur, told me he happened to meet one of his Chinese MBA classmates while that classmate was in the USA on a business trip. They ran into each other at a Bay Area coffee shop last year. Chris kindly invited him to his house for dinner and casually mentioned his own business without expecting anything from him. But completely unexpectedly, the man introduced Chris’ company to investors upon his return to China, and because of that, Chris was able to find investors for his business.

My cousin Ben, like me, read what Suh Yoon wrote and found it immediately effective. He was looking for a job at a New York hospital before his wedding. After reading Suh Yoon’s advice, Ben sought out and emailed medical school alumni in New York. One of those alumni introduced him to a great position. When I asked Ben about his good luck, he said, “Well, he said he owed me one because I helped him with his studies in med school. I didn’t even remember that.”

Chris and Ben have already met gui-in from among their acquaintances and got what they wanted. They both had also done those people favors in the past before gaining good fortune.

Honestly, I also tend to invest a lot into my relationships, because I believe that if I give first, I’ll get more in return. I volunteer for difficult tasks during teamwork and spend time helping my coworkers with their own work. I’ve helped a few of them get better jobs as well.

I just feel like I always give a lot and get almost nothing in return, only little gifts or invitations to dinner. I want to meet my gui-in and get good fortune! What else do I need to do?

-Kevin from New Jersey

 

A: As the saying goes, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” It’s natural to hope you’re repaid when you give something to someone else. The problem is that there can be a very wide gap between what the giving person thinks and what the receiving person thinks. For example, let’s say someone gives someone else 5. The person who gave it may think it’s not 5, but 10; meanwhile, the person who received it may think it’s not 5, but 1.

In business relationships, a contract is never even signed if the income and expenditure don’t match from the beginning. You can measure the price in currency when you trade. But human relationships are based on emotion, not money. This emotion can come in different forms: affection between friends, goodwill between colleagues, love between men and women. Since there’s no exchange rate, it’s difficult to estimate the price.

Let’s compare human relationships in general to romantic relationships here. People say they love their partner without wanting anything in return, but in fact most want their partner to love them back. When this feeling becomes stronger, it puts conscious and unconscious pressure on the other person. The result is that the relationship fails or the love turns to pity or hatred.

“I have a lot of love. I don’t want anything except the joy of giving love. I don’t feel that I will only love you if you love me.” This is the attitude you need to move another person’s heart and draw good fortune to you.

It’s the same with human relationships. If you feel like you aren’t rewarded as much as you give, it’s not because you don’t have good friends, but because your desire to be paid is strong. As Mingxin Baojian (an Asian classic containing a collection of aphorisms and quotations) says, “Do not hope for rewards for sharing kindness, and do not regret giving to others.”

It’s worth noting here that you need to carefully choose who you share goodwill with. First, reflect on whether the person is worth giving your goodwill to and whether you yourself are mentally prepared. If you decide to give, do so with a joyful heart, and then forget about it. Just be thankful that you have something to give and someone to give it to.

When you enjoy the pleasure of giving without expecting a reward, your gui-in and good fortune will naturally come to you.

 

Suh Yoon's Quotes

“It’s natural to hope you’re repaid when you give something to someone else. The problem is that there can be a very wide gap between what the giving person thinks and what the receiving person thinks.”

“If you feel like you aren’t rewarded as much as you give, it’s not because you don’t have good friends, but because your desire to be paid is strong.”

“If you decide to give, do so with a joyful heart, and then forget about it. Just be thankful that you have something to give and someone to give it to.”

“When you enjoy the pleasure of giving without expecting a reward, good fortune will naturally come to you.”