Is it really better to give than receive?

They say . . .

It’s better to give than receive.


Each December we fall headlong into Winter (at least in the Northern hemisphere).  We gird ourselves for annual storms of parties, correspondence blizzards (cards, emails and calls – oh my!), sallies of shopping, shows and such. How much time, money, energy, respect, reputation, love and/or health will you spend to show gratitude? How much will you give? How much will you receive?

Before we dive into gratitude’s deep end, let’s start with a quick quiz!

One a scale of one to ten, what’s your score regarding your ability to give and receive.

A one equals thoughts like, “I hate doing it.” Or, “I suck at it.” Or, “I know I have ‘issues’ with it.”

A ten equals thoughts like, “I LOVE doing it.” Or, “I’m a recognized pro at it.” Or, “I do it at the cost of my own sanity.”

What’s your score(s), right now, before reading on?


Write your score down on your calendar with a reminder to re-visit this score every 30 days!

Why is scoring your ability to give or receive such a big deal? Simple! Your scores tells you how well you’ve mastered the art of genuine gratitude. Genuine gratitude is a primary password to access ongoing good health, ethical, stable, growing wealth and effortless exponentially expanding ability to learn with more ease and grace. (I know this first hand as a monk of three orders, shaman in four traditions and a social worker at the masters level.)

Over the next few holiday weeks, when you share what you genuinely consider to be gratitude, is it really gratitude you share? Or, are you casting lines of manipulation?

For example, how is gift giving crafted with conscious and unconscious forms of manipulation.

  • Do you bind gifts with strings and bows of expectations?
  • Maybe you expect future (or resolve past) favors by extending expensive gifts. (Gifts so expensive you plan to work overtime until June to pay off plastic loans.)
  • Is your potential promotion, proposal or project plan dangling on a string? Will a personal invite to a festive event (an event you know decision makers will enjoy), find it’s way onto their hands disguised as gratitude?

Then there’s the holiday martyr syndrome polished with tradition linage linked to plush parties or plans. Rooted in some former founder (CEO, president, great, great-grandma or pa’s) doings, you’ve inherited a tradition you feel trapped to do. Maybe you’re responsible for a huge annual event to include an abundance of food, drink, beds, towels and chauffeurs. To balance all the cooking, cleaning, traffic jams, crowds, dietary demands (etc.) with your personal desires to enjoy a reasonable nights’ rest (maybe even a steamy hot bath infused with the healing traits of ONE your favorite natural oils like eucalyptus, frankincense, ginger, geranium, juniper, lemon grass, lemon verbena, rosemary, sandalwood or patchouli), do you find yourself utterly exhausted after such an event? So exhausted others know to steer clear of you for some time not because they respect your need for rest, but because every sentence you start, starts with, “I’m so exhausted from . . .” (Heads-up, guilt is a staple ingredient in most forms of manipulation.)

To enjoy more healthy, happy, honest holiday heydays, I challenge the ancient tincture: it’s better to give than receive.

I invite you to challenge this idiom as well!

Why? Simple. Think about how the more you receive, the more you’re able to give!

Case in point? Breathing. The simple act of breathing exposes the lie that to give is better than to receive. Try giving yourself a deep refreshing breath without first receiving air into your lungs. Try it right now.

  1. If you believe giving is better than receiving, then give out (breathe out) all your breath first.
  2. Then WAIT until someone tells you to RECEIVE a deep breath. The rules beneath ‘it’s better to give than to receive’ implicitly implies two separate living beings doing the giving and the receiving. (Case in point? The next time you ignore a flight-attendants’ pre-flight presentation, perk-up a little when they cover the information about ‘in the case of an emergency where oxygen masks fall before you…”)

Genuine gratitude (a topic we end our Pay Me What I’m Worth journey with), flows from a sense of endless, strings-free, expectations-free gratefulness. Feeling grateful for someone or something sans the sense(s) of drama, doubt, shame or worry (more staple spices for robust servings of manipulation), magnetizes your ability to more easily attract that which you wish more of. And guess what!

Feeling grateful also automatically vaccinates yourself from that which you want less (or nothing) of. For example, think about listening to a well-worn piano that’s terribly out of tune. The piano’s lack of perfect pitch often invites players to play the piano in ways that’ll cause the piano more harm. Once the piano is retuned, players tend to respect it more. As you fine-tune your ability to practice genuine gratitude, you’ll discover people naturally respect you more. (Would you purposefully wish to disrespect, cheat, lie, steal from someone you respect? Of course not!)

As you wake-up to the wisdom of reversing the old adage oft parroted by pious souls near and far, you’ll fine-tune your ability to receive (then give more), with less effort. As this fine-tuning drips into daily life, you’ll tap into a wellspring of energy you’ll savor and honor each and every day forward!

As gratitude awareness ripens, you’ll master the art of balance.

With each new state of balance, savor your ability to receive more to then give more.  This ever-expanding cycle awards you by attracting others who want to give you more (thus you’ll receive more). Confused yet? No! Great! Yes? No worries, like a rivers’ flow post thunderstorm muddied with all the runoff, the waters will clear as time ticks on.  Re-read this post a few times, then simply ponder it.

Practice gratitude?

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