Posts Tagged ‘receiving’

My friend and “optimism mentor” posed a question to me today: Is there such thing as a selfless act?

We had a great conversation on this topic that boiled down to this…

The concept of “selfless action” is essentially meaningless. Physics offers an instructive metaphor: The device used to measure some aspect of “reality” can not be separated from the reality it’s measuring.

In a similar way, the self cannot be separated from any action because the self is what intends and perceives the action. To put it another way, we always have a reason for the actions we take. Fulfilling that reason (even if the reason is to be charitable with no expectation of reciprocity) is our “reward” for the action.

If I donate $100 to a cause I believe in, I will certainly receive one or more of the following: feelings of joy, satisfaction, integrity, charity, or even self-actualization.

It seems that the only way “selfless action” makes any sense is if we’re unaware of the action. For example, I unknowingly drop $100 on the ground and someone picks it up. That is selfless!

All of this leads to the conclusion that giving is receiving, and receiving is giving. It’s like playing tennis — you need both sides or you don’t have a game.


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The question of why I created this blog comes up from time to time. Not from other people as much as within myself. Am I vain for posting such personal information? Do I crave attention? I’m confident the answer is no to both questions. But until today I didn’t really understand what the answer was. Let me explain.

Last night as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, I was aware of some negative feelings of “not being good enough.” I dug deeper and uncovered a belief that I did not want to admit to myself: I believe that I’m not lovable. Right next to that belief is another part of me that believes that I am lovable and knows that I am loved. But there was a release in admitting to myself that there was this dark part of me that believes the opposite. What I figured out this morning is that I released the shame of that belief.

The belief itself is easy enough to deal with. I have the tools for that. But by hiding it away, I wasn’t dealing with it. The shame was this extra layer of junk that was preserving that belief deep inside of me.

And that’s the value of this blog to me. It’s a place for me to admit publicly that I have psychological blemishes, that I’m not perfect. And there’s no shame in that.

Years ago in a co-listening exercise at Kripalu, I discovered the value of being witnessed by another, not comforted, not encouraged, not empathized with. Simply witnessed. It’s a wonderful thing when you can express something you feel ashamed of and find out moments later that your world did not come crashing down on your head.

Thank you for being my witness.

Now, what about this belief that I’m unlovable? Clearly, this is the second half of what I wrote about on Friday. Just as I can love in all my relationships to the same degree that I love in my romantic relationships, I can receive love in all my relationships to the same degree that I receive love in my romantic relationships. The cycle of love includes giving and receiving.

The lesson here is to grow as a receiver of love. Bring it on, Universe! Gimme what you got! 🙂

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Source of inspiration: Exchanging gifts on Christmas

Christmas carries with it a long tradition of giving and receiving gifts. One of the things I watched this morning–in myself and in others–was how wanting affects the receiving. When I get a gift that I wanted, there is a lift. It is easy to appreciate the gift. When I get a gift that I didn’t want, there is an awkward blend of dissatisfaction and guilt over not appreciating the gift. And worst of all, when all the gifts have been opened and I didn’t get a particular gift that I really wanted, there is disappointment. If the wanting was strong enough, that disappointment can completely overshadow any appreciation I had for other gifts.

It may seem that the “problem” is one of not appreciating. But the “problem” is in the wanting. The wanting creates an expectation. And any gift that is received is judged against that expectation.

This is not just a challenge at Christmas, but a challenge in every moment, a challenge between appreciating the gift of the present versus wanting something in the future.

Today, I will practice appreciating the present. At the same time, I will create space around any wanting that I notice in me, relaxing around it.

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