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The Happiness Connection  

Receiving is important too

I am writing this column with Christmas only a few days away. What do you think about when you consider the approach of Dec. 25?

Wondering whether I’ve got all the presents I need, looms in my mind. After all, this is the season of giving. Have I forgotten anyone?

At this time of year, the opportunities to give gifts, money, and time are boundless. Children have been busy at school making items for their parents and distributing cards to their classmates.

They may be looking forward to the presents they hope to receive, but they soon learn that giving has a better reputation than receiving.

Despite its less desirable status, I am here to boldly state that getting is as important as giving.

Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other. You can’t give unless there is someone, or something to give to.

Thinking you should give and not get is like believing that being awake is good and sleeping is bad. The two actions work in partnership, not in competition.

Our society has brainwashed us into thinking that giving is good and getting isn’t.

“It is better to give than to receive.”

“Don’t be a taker.”

“Happiness comes from what we give not what we get.”

But stop and think about it for a minute. If there were only givers and no receivers, who would get the gifts, compliments, and loving sentiments you want to bestow?

Let me be clear.

There is nothing wrong with giving. It is a good thing to do. It feels good and is an important action to practice. I am in no way suggesting you should give less. Keep on generously sharing what you have.

What I want to draw your attention to is the equal importance you should give to the act of receiving. Who teaches you how to take what you are given with gratitude and graciousness?

This is a skill that is often overlooked in our desire to give. Many people feel awkward when they are given something, especially if it is unexpected or awarded publicly.

Think about how you felt the last time you were given an unexpected compliment, gift, or accolade? How did you respond?

Many people struggle because they don’t feel worthy, they worry they will be seen in the unflattering light of a taker, or they get caught in the trap of believing they need to give something in return – now.

I know many people who keep a few generic gifts wrapped and under the tree, in case they receive a gift they weren’t expecting.

Giving for the sake of appearances isn’t the kind of giving that makes you feel good. If you feel you must give to everyone who gives to you then you are being motivated by the discomfort of receiving, not from the joy of giving.

Giving Guidelines

Decide who you want to give to and then choose items with thought and consideration. Gifts don’t need to be expensive. Invest time to choose something meaningful for the recipient.

Giving experiences rather than stuff has a lot of benefits. Read my column from last December, Give experiences, not stuff, if you are interested in this topic.

If you receive a gift you weren’t expecting, do something special for that person in January rather than handing them a generic gift from under your tree. It will be more meaningful.

Receiving Guidelines

It doesn’t matter what you are given, receive it with gratitude. The blessing is having someone in your life who wants to give you something, not the something that is wrapped up.

Be mindful of how receiving makes you feel. If it is embarrassing or uncomfortable, resolve to practise this skill. You may need some personal development to embrace your worth, or to help you let go of limiting beliefs.

The best way to receive is simply to look the giver in the eyes, smile, and say thank you.

Think of receiving as an act of giving. You are allowing others to give by accepting their offerings. It doesn’t matter what you think of your worthiness, it matters what they think.

Use this season to help you hone your getting skills, so you are both an unselfish giver and a grateful receiver.

In the words of Maya Angelou, “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed."

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!



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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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