What can you still have the same amount of, even after you’ve given it away?

If a shepherd gives away three of his fifty sheep, he has a smaller flock than he began with.

When a greengrocer gives away half his apples as free samples, there’s less in his shop than there was when he opened that morning.

Should a millionaire give away half her fortune, her bank account would be less flush than it was.

It goes without saying that there are some things in life – sheep, apples, money for example – whose quantity diminishes as you distribute them.

I give to you, then you have some of what I had, while I now have less.


But of course there are other things that don’t leave us worse off when we give them away.

I’ve typed this message, for instance, which is now on your computer or phone.

But it’s also still on my mine.

If you recorded a version of The Yellow Rose of Texas on your ukulele and sent me an MP3 (thanks – just what I always wanted) we’d both have copies.

So, thank goodness some would say, the idea of depletion through giving-away falls apart in the digital world.

It’s a principle, after all, which is part of what underpins the information revolution, but as a matter of fact it’s nothing new.

Consider my Exhibit H: Help.

If you give me your help, do you somehow have less of it to give?

Well, not really.

Help is a mysterious resource which can be given, or not, in a seemingly infinite range of amounts – without taking anything away from us.

Giving lots of help may of course tire us – even overload us at times.

Broadly, however, giving your help doesn’t cost you.

In fact it’s even better than that, as it may well leave your emotional bank balance better off than it was.

Helping others can make you feel good in and of itself, and what’s not to like about that?

I imagine there won’t be too many opportunities to give away sheep today.

So why not think about giving away some of your help?

2 thoughts on “What can you still have the same amount of, even after you’ve given it away?

  1. Love is also another one of those things that doesn’t deplete when you give it away. In fact it usually grows!

    I also wanted to respond to your point about giving lots of help tiring us. As I was reading this, it dawned on me that I often get myself into situations where I offer help but it can be to my own detriment. I’m one of those people who puts other people before myself too much. It’s taken me a long time to realise that saying no to helping others is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if it means I can have an evening to recharge or do the things that I’ve needed to do.

    I felt like I had to respond as it seemed like a comment that could be easily overlooked but there have been so many times in my life I’ve come near to breaking point because I was helping others too much. So I felt I had to comment in case there are others like me. I’ve learnt that putting myself first isn’t selfish, and that there can be a wonderful balance between addressing your own needs and helping others which can take your life to a blissful place.

    1. Thanks for that Kiran. I’m one of those people too! Work full time in social care, I look after my 102 year old gran and also my dad who has dementia, have two teenage kids, I’ve taken on the running of a charity. I’m often near breaking point so the recharge thing for me is DEFINITELY not helping someone, but having time to myself! Thanks for saying that. Sally S.

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