When I was a sophomore at George Washington University, a friend handed me $10 two weeks before Christmas. I asked her what it was for and she said, "Just because I have it and you don't." That $10 allowed me to buy a gift that I had no other way to afford. I have never forgotten what that unexpected gift felt like.
That was a turning point for me. I realized that a small gift could have a big impact. I wanted to be able to pass along that good feeling.
Giving and receiving are just opposite ends of the continuum. At any given time any one of us can be either a giver or a receiver, and often we are both.
Over time, I became aware of different ways of giving for different needs. Giving money is just one way to give and not everyone needs money. But everyone needs something. Just as everyone has something to give.
The key to knowing what to give? What is it we want to receive? Give that to others.
Over my lifetime, I learned that I needed to receive as much as I wanted to give. I needed time from others when I needed someone to listen to me, console me, or guide me. Time, whether spent to bring joy to someone or to help another through sadness, is the most precious gift of all.
No one is immune from needing help from time to time. Even money and power don't prevent anyone from getting ill, nor from having a flood wash away their property, or even from losing a job. Regardless of our status in life, we can become depressed, lonely, even fearful.
The key to knowing what to give?
What is it we want to receive? Give that to others.
Rich or poor can reach out to give a kind word, a hug, a smile. As the ads say, priceless.
Giving and receiving take many forms and sometimes merge. Here is an example:
Years ago I was on a mental health board and conducted Lunch Box Forums at libraries, offering talks by mental health professionals. My favorite was a talk about stress points.
The speaker was a psychiatrist who pointed out how different events - divorce, losing a job, moving, even Christmas! - can produce quantifiable stress in a person. Stress can come from both good and bad events and situations. I don't recall the exact points assigned to each stressor, except that Christmas had 10 points, but I do remember the total points a person could handle in any two year period was 200.
I can't tell you how many times I have recalled the stress points concept throughout my life. What was helpful to me was realizing stress has a cumulative effect. Someone who has lost a spouse and then moves out of state compounds their stress.
I cite this board service to illustrate how I was the receiver, even as I was seen as the giver. Just being aware when my life was full of stress helped me to recognize when I was over the 200 points.
When we fully participate in life, giving and receiving will always be on the same continuum. Let us celebrate both.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 38 years.
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