By Andrea Goeglein
When you give, you receive. That is a teaching within many spiritual traditions, and a grounded learning within Positive Psychology. When studying individuals and how satisfied they are with their lives, it has been found that those who give to organizations or others in need, report greater overall satisfaction with their lives. You give of your time, your talents and/or your money, and you will experience greater meaning and push yourself to achieve greater goals. Your purpose is bigger than you and you thrive!
I had the unexpected pleasure of experiencing this learning first hand recently. I decided to take a class, Developing a Healing Consciousness. I thought I was taking the class because my friend was teaching it and I wanted to help boost attendance. I knew the subject, did not feel a great need to take another class, but very much wanted to support my friend’s success.
Then it happened. I leaned something that positively shifted my thinking and will impact my life and my work going forward. Clearly, that is a pretty big gift just for supposedly doing something to help a friend. The learning came around the psychological concept of ‘accepting’. I had learned about ‘accepting’ from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and her Stages of Grief model. The stages for dealing with a major life change are roughly: denial, bargaining, anger, and acceptance.
I will admit that I have been substituting acceptance with resignation – you know that point in time when you realize you cannot change the outcome of an unpleasant situation — so you (and I might as well get over it and move on. Admittedly, that understanding of acceptance worked for me for over 40 years. I was born with and lived in an environment where “just get over it” was an assumed mode of handling life. What I learned, however, was that one of the actual definitions of accepting is to ‘be ready to receive’.
I was blown away. I just never read that definition before and seeing it for the first time changed everything. From a somewhat defeatist stance of ‘resignation’ I finally got accepting as a psychological opening allowing me to receive life in a new and different way. What I know to also be true is where you put your attention, is where you get your result. Is it better for me (and you) to think of accepting as resignation or of a willingness to receive?
Even without science backing the feeling, I am willing to receive that a gift I thought I was giving to another has returned to me a hundred-fold. Scientific support is just a bonus.
Dr. Success Challenge: What situation in your life do you need to be ready to receive more good? Where did you give of yourself only to have received so much more in return?
Happy giving. Just for fun, here is a funny take on the grief model thanks to NickMom.com
Note: Research on money and meaningful life: Dunn, EW, et al. (2008). Spending money on others promotes happiness. Science, 319(5870) 1687-1688.