I received an incredible insight this week. I was pondering how to deepen my ability to receive, in every sense of the word.
The answer that came was simple, and yet so profound, as the best revelations always are.
I was told: Consider Everything a Gift.
Everything you use, eat, experience, see, enjoy, cry over, do, partake of, ponder. Everything. The weather of the day, the comforts of your home, the joys and trials of your relationships. All of it. Look upon each thing as a gift.
These are wise words for me since sometimes receiving can be a bit of a struggle. Giving, I have no problem with, but getting, well, that’s different. I’ve become more comfortable with graciously receiving compliments, but there’s more work to be done.
What about when someone gives you a surprise gift and you’ve gotten nothing for them in return? Hard. What about when a friend helps you out in some way and you don’t know when or how you’ll repay the favor? Uncomfortable.
But when the shoe’s on the other foot and you’re the one giving, it’s pleasurable and easy, right? That’s how I feel. I’m happy to help, give, assist—without thinking about any kind of reciprocity.
And then there’s the idea of remembering to acknowledge the regular things in your life as a gift. Your morning yogurt, a healthy houseplant, the mud the dog tracked in. In order to do this you must be mindfully present which, admittedly, can be a challenge. What I’ve found though is that making the effort to live in this kind of moment-by-moment gratitude feels amazing.
What about when you just can’t see the gift in that three-foot ridge of snow the plow left at the foot of your driveway? Well, ok, that stinks. But what if while shoveling you reconnect with your neighbor and commiserate about the snow plows and share a laugh after a long winter of hibernation? That’s a gift, right?
I was told: Giving is Sacred.
I was told to honor everything I give as a gift as well. Conversations, donations, meals I cook for my family, emotional support, a look of love, a loaned book, advice, everyday kindness, a hug. What if you could offer your words as if you’re speaking a love letter?
Sure, you give these things all the time, but do you think of them as special gifts? Do you have the intention of giving with the thoughtfulness of a special offering? I must admit that I haven’t done this in the past, but I’ve started now and it’s a wonderful experience to infuse sweetness into everything, whether you’re gratefully receiving or generously giving. Each connection feels like a gift.
I’ve noticed, coincidentally, that I have a teacher on this subject living right in my house. My daughter is an expert at receiving—as well as giving.
The other morning she came down to the fresh bread I’d made for breakfast and when she saw the loaf she smiled and squealed. Then she kind of danced over to the island where it was cooling and leaned her ear in close. “I love to hear how it crackles when it comes out!” she exclaimed.
Later she cooed over how cutely the dog was curled up in his favorite chair, and took a few moments to gaze adoringly at him and then whisper sweet words while scratching his ears.
That afternoon she told me she wasn't chosen to compete in the sectional speech meet, but several of her friends were. “I want to go cheer them on. I’m excited that I’ll get the chance to hear them speak since usually I’m busy doing my speech and miss all the others. It’ll be fun!”
My kid is not always positive. Trust me, no Pollyanna’s live here. But I realized that when it comes to appreciating all the gifts in life, she’s an expert and so I’ve silently signed up for lessons.