Is it better to give or to receive?

Posted by on Jun 9, 2012 in featured, Philosophy, Yoga Lifestyle | 2 comments

Is it better to give or to receive?

Solomon peed on me the very first time I changed his diaper. I took it as a sign of affection.

I drove the hour plus to Spartanburg, SC to visit my friend Kristin and her new baby on a sunny Saturday afternoon with my 9 year old daughter. Just one week old, Solomon has it made. Adoring mom, doting dad, and two (much) older siblings very much in love. This baby is not neglected (understatement). When he’s not nursing, he is being cuddled by one of his other family members. Every time I tried to hold him my own daughter begged for a turn. Rarely does his adorable little butt get put down.

I marveled at the softness of his skin and the floppy mobility of his little body. I smelled his head, brushed my lips over his cheek, and stroked his neck. What an incredible adaptation for such a tiny vulnerable being to become so adorable that every human in sight wants to not only protect, but practically worship him.

A friend of mine once told me that we love babies and animals because they are such generous receivers. We usually think of generosity in terms of giving. But what if receiving is as much of a gift as giving is?

Many of us have an unhealthy relationship with receiving; we think of it as being greedy or weak. When we see in those terms, we set up a power differential between giver and receiver. This causes us to either avoid receiving at all costs or accept the generosity of others at the cost of our own self worth. Giving in this context can also become distorted becoming about power rather than generosity.

Giving makes us feel worthy, capable, and selfless, feeds our self-esteem and connects us to our purpose. So if giving benefits the giver as much or possibly every more as it benefits the receiver, then the receiver is giving just as much as the giver. The two roles begin to blur into a symbiotic dance where we practice the best sides of our selves.

Practice:
This week, look for small opportunities to give: a compliment, a pretty leaf or stone, a smile, a helping hand. Also notice when it is your turn to receive. What is your emotional reaction? Do you dismiss the compliment or breathe it in?

2 Comments

  1. The first sentence of this post is one of the most awesome first sentences of a blog post ever!

    I love this idea, especially for people who struggle with receiving. I am practicing the best side of myself by “giving” a comment to you, rather than just reading and enjoying anonymously.

    I continue to enjoy your blog ;-)

  2. Thanks Heidi! Very much appreciated and I am sooo looking forward to hearing about B-school. Has that started yet?

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