The Art of Giving and Receiving / by Hilary Hann

We live in a competitive world, whether or not we choose to compete ourselves.  I’m involved in a lot of competitions in many guises in several very different fields: as a judge; a volunteer; a competitor and as a supporter of my competitive daughter.  Like many others, I find that it can be quite a challenge to balance the competitive urge to win with a more humble approach to excel against your own parameters without having to beat others.

Being thankful for our successes and thanking those who have helped us in many different ways to achieve our goals is just as important as being that person who gives of themselves so that others can achieve theirs.

I like the following quote from Deepak Chopra who talks about the art of giving.

“Every relationship is one of give and take.  Giving engenders receiving and receiving engenders giving.  What goes up must come down; what goes out must come back.  In reality, receiving is the same thing as giving, because giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe.”

As a society we almost demand thanks from our winners and many times these winners are instructed on whom they must thank.  This is so ingrained that I wonder if anyone gives much thought about why they are thanking a particular person or entity.  The genuine feeling behind the thanks is overtaken by duty and necessity and once that happens both the value of the giving and the receiving is diminished.

I wonder why we feel that thanking someone is so difficult.  If it’s a competition sponsor, perhaps the impersonal nature of the gift becomes the wall that separates us from the genuine and most rewarding feeling that comes from the emotion of giving thanks.  For the people who give us reason to be thankful without thought, be they family, colleagues or friends, I wonder how often we actually think about the nature of the gift they’ve given us.  True thanks will come out of our understanding of the value of what has been offered.

Next time you think about having to thank someone, consider the way you offer your thanks and how heartfelt it is.  Perhaps even more importantly, pause and consider if you’ve done or said anything that would give another person reason to thank you.  Not because you wanted thanks or gratitude but because it felt like it was the right thing to do.  I find that it can take practise to give generously of your time, knowledge or goodwill to help others.  Not from a sense of duty because that has its own issues to consider. 

For many years I preferred to go about my business, keeping myself to myself.  It suited me just fine until I noticed how uncomfortable I felt when on the receiving end of gratitude.  Trying to receive thanks felt awkward, as if it wasn’t deserved.  So I set around changing that.  It isn’t about being nicer, necessarily; it’s about giving more thought to what value you can give others, to enhance their lives.  It is all about a generosity of spirit that can make your own life richer and stronger.

As a therapeutic exercise, the rewards are huge.

Try it.