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Restoring the Balance between Giving and Receiving

“Give without expectation and receive with reckless abandon.”
By Colleen Mariotti, Livology: A Global Guide to a Deliberate Life

Enjoy this holiday season and be mindful of the ways in which you give and receive. The quotes abound on this subject. I like the quotes that highlight the balance between the two and the attitude with which we give and receive. When I give to others, I feel grateful and happy that I have enough to share; and when I receive a gift or kindness from another, I feel joyful and grateful too! They both feel wonderful to me. This article shares my tips on how to bring more balance to and get more enjoyment out of giving and receiving.

We give our possessions, money, time, attention, and actions. We also share with others our personhood and inner values--joy, peace, compassion, enthusiasm, understanding and more. We receive from others and Life. People give us tangible gifts, comfort, help in a time of need, and praise for who we are and what we do. Life also gives to us in subtle and not so subtle ways: I gave thanks when I found the doctor who saved my life, met my husband, and received a lucrative contract for my work.

An imbalance in giving and receiving can diminish the satisfaction and enjoyment we experience in life. Too much giving leads to serving others without regard for ourselves. Adults who do not set limits on their resources (attention, time, energy, money and people) and deny their desires or preferences give themselves away. They may resent giving or become a victim to it. (Saints, avatars and missionaries are destined to serve mankind with little thought for themselves.) Too much receiving leads to a selfish sense of entitlement. Both powerful and powerless adults may expect others and life to do for them and do not develop the ability to cope with life’s challenges and grow personally.

When you give and feel uplifted and joyful in your giving, that is the “right” thing for you to do because your cup overflows with something you have received from Life. When you receive and feel uplifted and joyful, you give gratitude back to the giver. When the giving and receiving is seen from this perspective, giving and receiving are a part of each other: From this perception, we find ourselves participating in a sacred cycle. 

Below are a few tips that will bring more balance and harmony into your giving and receiving and unite them in one harmonious whole.

  • Give what the other values. (Give of your time and attention if that is what is important to the other person. Receive their smile of gratitude and feel the connection.)
  • Give what feels easy for you to give. (You might give money or a helping hand because you have enough of what is needed. Receive the gift of making a difference.)
  • Give from your heart, without wanting something back. (Give from a place of joy and abundance. Receive the feeling that your cup overflows with love.)
  • Give to yourself as well as others. (You are as important as anyone else; treat yourself that way. Receive the feelings and pleasure the gift gives you.)
  • Receive without feeling obligated to give back (Allow yourself to enjoy a gift or help without the need to earn it. Give the gift of gratitude.)
  • Receive with a joyful heart (Be gracious in your receiving because it is a natural part of the divine order of life. Give thanks for your blessings and praise a Higher Power.)
  • Receive without feeling negative emotions (Challenge any subconscious messages that make you feel unworthy. Give yourself the gift of worthiness and entitlement.)
  • Receive the love others offer. (Receive the object, behavior or compliment with an open heart and deep appreciation. Acknowledge the connection and perhaps give a hug.)
St. Francis of Assisi said, “It is in giving that we receive.” I believe that it is also in the receiving that we give. When we give from the heart, we receive the joy of making a difference in someone’s life. When we receive from another, we give them the opportunity to express their worth and honor us. I think it goes for life as well. Life is always sending us gifts, and we have the opportunity to recognize the blessing and express gratitude.

Be mindful of how you give and how you receive. Avoid the extremes of selflessness and selfishness. Give in ways that feel “right” to you with your personal resources. Notice what comes back to you. Receive it with feelings of worthiness and gratitude. During this holiday season, give thanks for being an instrument of giving and receiving and enjoy the love and beauty all around you.

To live well longer, be mindful of your giving and receiving and have gratitude for being an instrument of a Higher Order.

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