CENTERS’ PIECE: The art of giving and receiving

“The best way to give cheer yourself is to give cheer someone else up.” Mark Twain
Giving to others is good for you. It will make you feel better about yourself by taking your focus off of yourself and your problems. Many of us do not like to take things from others for various reasons. By refusing to let others do or help us do something takes the joy of giving from others. This is the secret of giving. Most of us do not want to be helped because we feel that we are imposing or taking from others that have less than we do.
I learned this lesson when I was a counselor for an outpatient therapy group for elderly people sponsored by the local hospital. As professionals, we are discouraged from taking anything from a patient or client. The people with whom I worked had little to nothing as far as money or possessions, let alone high self- esteem. As our relations ships began to grow and a mutual respect was shared, I had one lady who came into group one day bringing a lime; old and shriveled, but it was her favorite fruit and she wanted to share it with me. I took it with tears in my eyes and was grateful for this lesson. Another brought me homemade chile sauce in a plastic bag.
There was probably two tablespoons of chile sauce in the bag, but she wanted to share it with me. We were not allowed to bring home cooked food into the center, but one woman who was new to the program brought a homemade cake to share with her group and therapists. Would we have denied her gift? No way! She was so proud to be able to share with others because of her new found friends and refuge each other, no matter how small the gesture. The size of gifts grew from one small lime to exchanging shoes and out grown clothes to going to movies with each other.
The giving issue was the topic of several group sessions and we learned that there must be a recipient for whom the gift is intended. The receiver is the most important person in that equation. The most valuable gift is one of personal time, spent in the service of others, listening and paying attention. When we are able to serve others, by putting the needs of the ego to one side, we become more humble, less focused on self and more aware of the strengths of those around us.
Make a list of deeds that you have done and ask yourself whether or not each one made you happy. It may turn out that the best good deed (gift) you have ever done is to allow someone to give a gift, no matter how small, to you. Your good deed, therefore, is to be a kind, caring and loving recipient. Allowing another to give is a blessing in itself.