We live in a world that values giving. Giving is seen as loftier and more noble than taking – the poor cousin of relationship interactions. Taking is seen as needy, dependant and a state to be avoided.
Yet while giving is certainly noble, there’s also a nobility in taking that we often forget.
Consider this, we can’t give unless there is someone to give to. No matter how much we have to give, or want to give – unless there is someone to receive our efforts at giving can only be frustrated. We can’t all be givers – not at the same time anyway.
What we can do is turn taking into another form of giving and realise a true state of interdependence with each other – where we share a connectedness leagues beyond the one-up, one-down position we usually think of when we talk about give and take.
When I mindfully receive a kindness from a friend – I’m not just taking and “using” them as taking often implies. At a deep level of mindful receiving I’m giving them the opportunity to give, and setting aside my own resistance to taking. I’m enabling another to express altruism – and that I think is a very refined other-focussed form of giving.
Now there’s certainly something noble in that as is the opportunity for expressing gratitude that receiving brings. If all we ever do it give, if we never humble ourselves to receive – then we never have the golden opportunity to really say “Thank-you” to another – and appreciate all that we have – all that we have been given. Gratitude is fundamental for wellbeing – and the act of taking and receiving can open us up to that.
And as good as giving is, it has it’s downsides too. Too much giving can harm people at times – too much giving can get in the way of another’s autonomy and empowerment. Giving can unintentionally lead to the illusion that one doesn’t need others. But nothing is further from the truth.
Mindful giving can be a humbling experience – knowing that were it not for the other’s needs you would be like the nursing mother pining for a baby to suckle. Somehow mindful giving can open you put to the reality that you get back more from the recipient of your kindness than you gave them. This can bring true gratitude in it’s wake.
So, let’s set aside our preconceptions and strive to be mindful givers and takers – where we give and take from each in a healthy way that enhances us all. It’s an other-centred view of the world that lifts us all to be better people and see the humanity we all share.