Screen shot 2012-01-18 at 3.47.31 PM

Don’t Invest. Give.

I was having a chat with my fiancé one night recently, and burst into tears. I was bitter, sad, and angry. Why doesn’t anyone help me in return, I asked. Why is it when I am good to people and it feels like the kindness and generosity isn’t reciprocated? My fiance, with one eyebrow lifted, looked at me tenderly and said, “Perhaps because you aren’t really giving?”

I’ve always thought of myself as a kind person. When I moved from city to city with my expatriate job, I hosted many friends from Hong Kong, where I grew up, to visit. After all, who doesn’t want a free place to stay in when in Paris, Tokyo, London… ? So I would be more than happy to put them up while they traveled.

However, when these people come and board in my guest room, do I realize that they have other friends in the same city. And so, in the five days they stay with me, I see them perhaps only one night for dinner – and they don’t even attempt pay for dinner to thank me for letting them stay at my home.

The other four nights they were out with their other friends. Why did they not invite me to join them? Why did they not offer to introduce us sooner when I first arrived in the new city, a stranger to the land, so that I could make some new friends? I tried asking them, they just shrug and smile.

I did not understand why it wasn’t reflex for them, for every time I hear that someone is going somewhere I offer to connect them with people I know in that city in case they need some support. I got upset that no one seems to care about my plight.

Then I got angry. I am generous with my contacts. Even over a coffee chat and I learn about your latest venture, immediately I will skim through my address book in my head, and offer to introduce you to people whom I think could help you with your endeavors.

Yet hardly has that happened to me in reverse. Sometimes I even have to ask others whether they could introduce someone to me.

So I am bitter that the favors aren’t returned. That despite all my giving, helping, supporting every friend and acquaintance I can, it seems that no one gives back to me in return.

Almost timely. After that little episode with my fiance, I was simply bouncing from website to website, and searching for ebooks on the Internet to read. I came across Eckhart Tolle’s book, “A New Earth.” Rummaging through the free pages, I came to this line: “Whatever you think the world is withholding from you,” writes Tolle, “you are withholding from the world.”

Suddenly, the ripples cleared up and I saw a pristine reflection of the reality.

Every time I had given before, was actually not genuine giving. At the back of my mind, I was keeping an invisible tally of favors and acts of kindness I had bestowed on others, making a mental note that some day, I’d cash it back.

I didn’t give, I invested.

As with investments, I expected something in return. And with every investment there’s a risk of gain or loss. Therefore, when I didn’t receive something back, let alone something in addition, I counted it as loss. That was why I became resentful and sour.

My intentions were therefore, not pure. I was subconsciously calculating, expecting, scheming. I put myself on a high horse, as if I was doing them a good deed, and that made me a better person.

As Tolle wrote so powerfully, I lamented others for withholding from me. Yet, it was I in the first place who reserved from others, not giving fully and wholeheartedly with the best of intentions.

In the end, who became the most upset? I did.

I’m slowly changing that mindset. There is no miraculous way or 10 steps to follow.

Simply, just decide to give without expecting anything in return.

I now invite people to dinner because I enjoy their company and want to get to know them better, not because down the line I want to be invited back. When I find out that my friends decide to spend only 5 hours with me on my wedding weekend, but flit around town to see several other groups of friends – whom they’ve never introduced – those few days, I am grateful they will fly all the way for my wedding. Let it be. I’ve done what I can.

But this is just one part of it. Tolle finished the paragraph with, “You are withholding it because deep down you think you are small and that you have nothing to give.”

Indeed, it was also my insecurity with myself that I wasn’t able to let it all go, and just share my knowledge and resources. I had to make it sound like I was trying really hard to find a contact, or that they might not appreciate it. Consequently, I discounted what I had and rocked my own self-confidence.

It’s a paradox, but very real one. The more we are unsure of ourselves, the more we try to hold on to what we have, thinking we can’t lose it or let others benefit from our knowledge. So we withhold always a little for ourselves, and yet blame others and the universe for not giving to us without reservations.

Believe in who you are and what you have. Help others and give your all.

You will feel happier. Trust me on this one.

Give, don’t invest.




Raised in Hong Kong and Australia, Noch Noch was a young, overachieving executive for an international corporation, working and living in the world’s most premier cities. After seven years of living the life she dreamt of, or so she thought, she suffered a serious episode of stress-related depression that turned her life upside down. As she battles with depression, Noch Noch is on a quest to be the wake up call for others in similar plights. She strives to be true to herself, jotting down her reflections on living with depression and self-awareness at “Be Me. Be Natural.” (






  • Flexrxfitness

    Sharing your thoughts has given a voice to many that are gracious & giving. Upon reading your article,  I connected in the most parallel way.  It is not selfish for our friends/peers to reciprocate the mannners & grand gestures we share with their plight.  I have always thought to lead by example.  In other words, to JUST ACT RIGHT.

    • Hi Flexrxfitness

      That’s sums it up – just act right!!! Thanks for reading my article. Let’s all lead by example!

      Noch Noch

  • I agree 100% with the title. If you expect something when you help another person in, you’re not really giving. Even worse, you can’t help but feel bummed out when someone doesn’t reciprocate. 

    The best thing to do is give for the sake of giving. Otherwise, it’s too easy to fall into the trap you write about at the beginning and feel like nobody appreciates you or gives back.

    Cool post!

    • Hi George P.H
      That’s exactly what I was doing before, give but expect something in return and I think that’s why I felt “bummed out” like you said. Yup, have to give for the sake of giving, not for feeling good, not for a favour in the future. bUt just give wholeheartedly

      Thanks for your thoughts
      Noch Noch

  • Hi Noch Noch,

    I can understand why you felt that way.  I have felt the same way in the past before.  We treat others in the way that we hope to be treated.  But others may not see things the same way as we do or behave in the manner that we want them to.  And both your fiance and Tolle have a valid point as well.  

    I remember years ago I had this same problem with a girl that I liked.  Every gift that I gave had conditions.  Everything that I did was in the hopes of binding her closer to me.  It didn’t work out.  And as you would have known, I wasn’t really giving since I had so many expectations.  

    Over time I changed and learned to let go.  The most important change for me was putting her interests before my own.  As you know, Aries have a me-first mentality.  So I slowly learned to take second place and not bother so much about what I was getting in return.  Today, we are the closest of friends and I even attended her wedding with gladness in my heart.  As long as I can watch out for her, there is nothing I expect from her.  Strangely, as a result of not having expectations, she has come to rely more on me and has given freely in return as well.

    As you say, give, don’t invest.  Wiser and truer words have not been spoken.  :)

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article!  

    Irving the Vizier

    • Hi Irving

      Good to hear from you here too! I guess when we expect something in return, others can feel that vibe too and feel our half heartedness
      So as you say, we need to give without expecting anything in return and do it with our whole heart.  Then others will also rely on us for there is no barrier of favours that need to be returned or not

      Noch Noch

  • Thank you for your very honest & open article. I have been working as a counsellor in the UK since 1997, and more recently trained in Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). The EFT element to my counselling work has transformed the effects within my clients, and also with working on myself. The reason why I’m telling you about EFT is that whilst reading you article there was a theme was standing out to me, which when you’re the one living that life can be missed (not being able to see the wood for the trees!).
    The theme was that you, for whatever reason, had created a system of protecting yourself emotionally when you were in unfamiliar & isolating circumstances… You mentioned the fact that you have travelled around the world with your job & that you felt the need to create your own support network in each place as soon as possible… If your emotional needs are not met then how could you perform well in your work?? So, therefore, you continue to create your network of support wherever you travel, as it make you feel secure. Because you have done this so long, and you have felt the benefit from it, it’s natural to think that others who may be travelling to the same part you’re currently living in will appreciate the support you’re offering, but you mentioned in your article that when you tried asking some of your friends they just ‘Shrug their shoulders & smile’… That will more than likely be because they don’t have the same need as you for the support & security in unfamilar places, and they don’t introduce you to their friends because they probably don’t think the way you do, and don’t connect with you need for support & additional friends… It’s not necessarily because they are selfish, but that they are just not resonating with your needs.
    I would suggest that your need for creating this kind of support for yourself could be almost a lifelong behaviour, and may go back to childhood where perhaps at school or family experiences started off that need to protect & support yourself in this way… When something feels like it’s working for us then it natural to want to repeat those feel good feelings, and so we can end up with behaviour that is very helpful for a while, but when it’s practiced throughout our lives it can become a hinderence, and give us a perspective on life that others can’t relate to.
    Positive thinking is brilliant, however, when we have issues that need to be resolved such as why you feel you need support in your life, then the positive thinking is simply putting a sticking plaster over it, and not resolving it.
    EFT works on those issues that have caused us to form the protective behaviour in the first place, and concentrates on the negativity for a short while, and at the same time you tap, or the therapist taps, on various meridian points (mainly around the upper body), while you’re connecting with the negative memories.
    By doing the tapping whilst connecting with the negative memories, it starts to balance the energies which were distrupted during the original memory/event/trauma.
    If you work on your issue of needing ‘support’ or to ‘feel supported’ with EFT, your thoughts & feeling start to change and it becomes more settled… The healing begins with the emotions and continues onto the physical body where a lot of the stresses manifest.
    You will probably then find that your efforts to think positive will become automatic & easy, because you’re not battling to overcome the negatives, as those negatives will have been healed by the EFT method… There’s plenty of articles on the internet and lot’s of video demos on You Tube…. Enjoy your freedom ! 😀     Paula Honeyands EFT

    • Hi Paula

      this is the first time I’ve heard of EFT, so thanks for sharing it. what you said here makes a lot of sense, esp that I might have judged others using my own experience and perceptions. I have moved around so I know what it’s like to be lonely in a new place. Perhaps those friends haven’t and do not ascertain such a need for new friends as you say. So I put my own thinking into it, and protected myself first… 
      But I do not purport to know much about EFT and how it could help. So I’m off to google this first and read about it
      Thanks again for bringing this up and doing such a thorough analysis to explain it to me!
      Noch Noch

  • “just decide to give without expecting anything in return” yes! i always do. But i always got something back when i gave,it is “Happiness” in my mind ^_^

  • Enoch, great article and definitely to the point! And you have a very smart fiance =) Love your writing, keep them coming! 

  • Enoch, great article and definitely to the point! And you have a very smart fiance =) Love your writing, keep them coming! 

    • Hi Katherine – thanks :)
      Hope you keep reading!
      Noch Noch

  • great job! believe me, that is a good post

  • great job! believe me, that is a good post

  • AJWLion

    I really enjoyed your article and it allowed me to try and look at my life a little bit differently. However, I do have to ask that at what point does it just become the other person taking advantage of you? Nothing says you have to give, but soon people expect it, which to me seems just as bad.

    • Thanks AJW Lion – that’s a good question. I don’t know if I have the right answer as it’s very personal. PErhaps when it gets to a point we feel abused and bad with our giving, or we know that the person is draining our energy and taking advantage of us. Then we need to protect ourselves too… what do you think?

      Noch Noch

  • Very good points. Expectations are enslaving. You cannot be really independent, if you’re attached to the future.

    • Hi Adam

      Agreed – attached to either the past or the future means we become slaves to ourselves. let’s not expect anything and just live our lives

      Noch Noch

  • It is best to just give and expect nothing in return.  However, I still believe in karma that in time, something will return back to you but not necessarily from those same people you originally gave to.  Life has a weird way of giving back to you sometimes as your ‘rewards’ for giving may simply be a better you as a result.  

    Having said that, it is also important to recognize that not everyone is a reciprocater.  Some people out there are unfortunately just takers but there will be some who do openly appreciate your efforts.  These are the people who you should cherish and value the most.

    • Hi Clint Cora

      That’s true, I also think what goes around comes around, perhps in a different form as we expect. When we are on the receiving end, we need also to be grateful and appreciate other’s efforts. Giving is never a bad thing i suppose :)

      NOch NOch

  • Ronaldcholmes24

    Although i am a very kind,loving,caring,and affectionate person toward my family and other they become hostile and rejecis me.whats up with that? 

    • HI Ronald

      Sorry to hear that. I don’t know your family well enough to say, but maybe you can ask them why they are hostile and rejects you? Maybe we are not giving what the others need but we think they need? I’m not sure. If I were in your place I’d ask them directly and sort it out. But we all have different temperaments so it would depend what you feel comfortable with doing. If it does make you feel bad, maybe direct your kindness to others?
      Noch Noch

  • hey Noch Noch,

    I’ve listened to Eckhart’s book numerous times. I love his wisdom.

    I’m learning everyday that the art of giving in a genuine manner can be manifested when you learn to simply ‘let go’. Just let go of all presuppositions about life and let your unconscious take over.

    I was always like that too, in that I would constantly always be ‘expecting’ something in return. Never did the outcome turn out the way I wanted.

    I guess when you learn to let go and be, you will no longer be withholding your gift to the world in full, and it’s until then that you’ll see abundance in return. But you just can’t ‘expect’ it.

    Thanks for posting this, you write beautifully.

    • Hi Brandon

      Yeh a lot of times we just have preconceptions about what is and what should be. Letting go and not expecting frees ourselves in the end from any bitterness. No one else can do it for us

      and thanks for the compliment :)

      Hope you are well
      Noch Noch

  • As we open ourselves to others we open ourselves to be hurt and yet you have found a way to overcome this hurt by giving yourself  to others freely. I do hope you can look inside and give to yourself also, as depression is a sign that something is not right with you and needs healing. Thanks for this posting.

    • Hi Carole

      Thanks for the insights – it’s true, depression has taught me that something inside me needs adjusting, and yes, my priority now is also to give to myself, and let my heart and mind heal. It’s a beautiful way you have put it too, we open ourselves to be hurt but by overcoming it, we let go as well of the past pains

      Thanks for coming by
      Noch Noch

    • Hi Carole

      Thanks for the insights – it’s true, depression has taught me that something inside me needs adjusting, and yes, my priority now is also to give to myself, and let my heart and mind heal. It’s a beautiful way you have put it too, we open ourselves to be hurt but by overcoming it, we let go as well of the past pains

      Thanks for coming by
      Noch Noch

  • It’s paradoxical, but giving actually comes with the most benefits when we do it without the expectation of something in return. Learning to give genuinely – because you really want to – is infinitely better than giving because of some “obligation” or because you think they will return the favor. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Hi Steven

      That’s true – i find that when i don’t expect something in return, i’m always surprised and receive something somehow. It IS infinitely better than giving for obligations sake!Noch Noch

  • SassyBW

    Noch Noch, I am older than you and am struggling in a high paying career that I don’t want to do any more along with depression. So similar to you love.

    I used to give a lot. I didn’t expect anything. I felt happy giving. 

    Then during one of my bouts of deep depression, I realized that nobody cared enough to do something to make me happy. I noticed this at my birthday when there would be no calls and no cards, nothing. I sort of figured out that people didn’t come around unless they wanted something from me; money or access to my contacts or a reference. 

    I stopped the giving and people went away. I am lonely here in a country with no family other than my spouse.

    I want to do something else for work and income but I make so much I am afraid to do something and make less.

    I give to a certain charity but not anyone else any more. I feel happier not being used.

    Noch Noch, are you looking at blogging to have a career in writing or just a way to sort yourself out?

    • Hi Sassy BW

      Sorry to hear of the plight. I had the same feelings before – why was I always the one who organized birthday parties for others but no one ever did so or me? I also thought people only contacted me when they needed something and my contacts. I also got bitter. Somehow, one day recently, i looked at my rolls of business cards and decided – i will give whatever anyone asks me and without calculating. I will help where i can. And I felt a burden had been lift off

      Can I encourage you to give again? Despairing as it sounds like, I think those who “use” you will have bad karma, and one day you will find your good karma

      Or maybe do some voluntary work with local charities? 

      Not sure – I don’t want to judge and tell you what to do. I’m sure you know deep down what needs to be done in your circumstances

      Re your career, the blogosphere has many examples of people who have left their corporate jobs and done well for themselves. DOes your spouse support you? I’m sure you can do it!! find what you love and help yourself.  Depression is no fun, esp if you feel stuck in a job you don’t like!

      As for me – blogging is my outlet and my therapy to sort myself out. I’m not think about career or income generating activities for now, because I’m physically and mentally not ready for it. There are many habits I need to unlearn first, and to give myself some time to heal and rediscover myself before I venture on that path.

      Take care
      Noch Noch

  • ove the quote: Whatever you think the world is withholding from you,” writes Tolle, “you are withholding from the world.”

    Mmm I could do with more friendship in my life….

    Thanks for the insight – insightful as always.

    • Hi Rosemary

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts – if Tolle is right then you may need to give more friendship? :)

      Noch Noch

  • Poemen


    I certainly had that feeling in the pass.  I believe it is down to confidence and our usual “do not spend too much of your time” mindset.  You see, sometimes, we try to grab the appreciations from others by helping them out in a big term but with our minimal effort, hoping that could maximise our time because we could spend it on something else; a similar concept as you might apply in your  investment.  We don’t want to “risk” all our time only for someone, so it might be better off to multi-task our “giving effort”. Whilst,  in the hope of reflecting how important we are as a result of our lack of confidence, we sort of subconsciously hinted how busy we are and it is just a pity that we can’t spend so much time for our dear friends.

    I never feel offended by that though. I just think that people do tend to pull themselves away a little bit because of their fear of risking all their efforts for someone who they are not totally familiar with.  Pass experiences might play a part too, as I am sure we are all old enough to experience the cold-hearted.

    Life is like playing Mozart. I think Mozart is best to be played by young performers or old performers, not someone in between.  The structures of his compositions are relatively simple, and only people who maintain a simple and easy mind can play the pieces wholeheartly.  When we were little, we wholeheartly help our friends without any calculation. As we move on, we might get ourselves into trouble, and lives are not as simple anymore. So, we start getting worry, we start our calculations, predictions and expectations; we start doing something as what you have written. However, time  brings us to realise that we should maintain our passions towards our friends, who might also had been infected by the realistic mindset. When you start treating your friends with your heart, with kindness and genuinity, they would feel like finding the oasis in this desert.  They then would appreciate, they start giving (even though you don’t expect them to) and the joy just add up.  You see how older people are so happy and simple, and one should admire their spirit. Because they are able to maintain such simplicity yet being mature enough to look after the others as well as themselve (it is as difficult as perfectioning Mozart when one has been playing difficult pieces for a long time) – a very fine, constant, yet effortless judgement

    best wishes

    Poemen (still haven’t touch the piano because of this pain in the wrist – overused at work …..  :(   )

    • Hi Poemen

      Thanks for coming over here to support my rambling too!! :)

      Yes- i think if we give without reservations as well, our friends will feel our genuineness and sincerity, and when we are not giving wholeheartedly, they will feel the same. Simply give is always the best way. 
      Our past experience teaches us to protect ourselves. Now we need to surpass and overcome these suspicion and give. We might get hurt again, but at least we can know we’ve done what we can :)

      Noch Noch

  • Pingback: When One Door Opens « mysocialcorner()