I gave blood today, and while I was sipping my tea and soup afterward under the watchful eye of CBS volunteers, I noticed a thank-you card on my table. It read:

Always give 100%. Unless you’re giving blood.

Cute. But also, a comment on some of what is wrong with society. Because a wise woman would NEVER give 100%. Giving 100% is unsustainable. Giving 100% is unbalanced and unhealthy. Like “the importance of developing leadership in all our youth” it’s pat jargon that has the effect of guaranteeing failure or unhappiness – or both – in anyone who embraces this nonsense.

What we should be teaching nascent citizens is, “give as much as you can give sustainably without harm to your authentic fully-realized self, and only to the limit where what you give actually makes the world better. Don’t give unnecessarily just because you can. Don’t give what forces others into dependency or resentment: that doesn’t make the world better. Don’t give to the extent that you disable or diminish yourself. Give generously, not frenetically.

And yet, every awards show, every corporate recognition programme, will single out and reward the people with one-dimensional lives and sacrificed selves; encouraging others to emulate those unwholesome examples.

Don’t do it. Live life fully, kindly, and well.

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