Appreciating the Benefits of Receiving

feature-article-image_oct“And now you ask in your heart, ‘How shall we distinguish that which is pleasurable from that which is not?’
Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower, 
But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.
For to the bee, a flower is a fountain of life, 
And to the flower, a bee is a messenger of love, 
And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.”  – Khalil Gibran

I was speaking to a group from the World Presidents’ Organization in Hyderabad, India, and was describing the concept of giving when one of the members shared an experience with me. He was once a part of the leadership of a round table club and had given a big cheque to Mother Teresa. She took the cheque, looked him in the eye and thanked him for his generous donation. She then put her hand on his shoulder and after a moment said something that really affected him. She said, “Never forget to thank the people who allow you to serve them.” In other words, thank those people who receive help.

In day-to-day life the act of giving holds more of a moral significance than the act of receiving. In fact, we often view receiving as a reflection of some kind of inadequacy on the part of the receiver. But this is not so. Receiving is as important as giving – listening, witnessing, observing and paying attention are all part of receiving, and we cannot be truly spiritually open until we are as open to receiving as we are to giving. 

There are many reasons why we feel uncomfortable receiving. Some people feel they are weak or have failed if they have to ask for help. However, we all have strengths and weaknesses. If we focus on our strengths and work on our weaknesses, we can achieve much more. If we seek help in areas where we are not particularly accomplished, we benefit a lot and give other people a chance to give – and being able to give is truly a blessing.

Some people fear that if they accept something, they will owe something in return. We all practice reciprocity at some point in our lives. For instance, if you receive help from someone, it’s natural to want to help them in some way. There’s nothing wrong with that. If someone offers to help you, accept it. One day, you’ll have a chance to return the favor, but it shouldn’t be a burden.

Whether or not we realize it, we are all always receiving in some form or another. For example, nature gives us abundantly every moment; sunlight, the wind, food, the shifting seasons, the sheer beauty of the earth…the list is endless. 

Receiving and giving are two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist without the other. We all exist because of this endless cycle of giving and receiving. 

Reflect on the following questions:

  • Do you graciously accept a compliment, feedback or a gift?
  • Do you feel that receiving is a sign of weakness?
  • Do you ask for help when you need it?
  • Do you worry about paying back after receiving?
  • Is independence more valuable to you than interdependence?
  • Do you receive graciously and pay it forward by doing a kind deed for someone else?

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