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Finding a Shared Meaning, Reflections on Dialogue
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Home » Reflections » Giving and Receiving


Giving and Receiving
by Mary Cook                                                                                                    en español

Do I live always hoping and expecting to receive something? It could be the loyalty of family and friends, a word of appreciation from my boss, a long and healthy life, financial security and a peaceful environment. I may be aware of this attitude or it may be tucked away in my subconscious. Whatever the case, living in expectation of receiving something will have a profound effect on my capacity for happiness.

Of course I am dependent on receiving emotional support from family and friends, and I am nourished by spiritual companionship. I depend upon my society and every day I draw upon the wealth it has received from past generations and from interaction with other societies and cultures. We are all dependent upon the well-being of the planet.

However, sometimes disappointment tells me that I have been reaching too far, expecting that what I want or need will just come my way. Then I stop to ask myself what I can do on my part to ensure that my expectations are met.

  • How can I demonstrate my love more clearly to family and friends?
  • Can I improve my skill as a team player and pay closer attention to my coworkers?
  • What more can I do to maintain good health? More systematic exercise? More attention to the nutritional value of the food I eat?
  • Do I really know how much money I need to live on for a month? Should I draw up a budget?
  • How can I use my physical, mental and emotional energy more efficiently to build a peaceful neighborhood and world?

All these steps imply effort on my part. However, when I accept wholeheartedly the effort implied, I find myself being as attentive to what I can give as to what I am going to get in return. I no longer live in expectation. I begin to see that giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. There is a wonderful mutuality to life. I am in tune with it and am happy. When I give I am really giving life, and when I receive, what comes to me is the other person's gift and life.


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