When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed. – Maya Angelou
What does that mean?
This is a great quote. It’s about being cheerful in giving, and how that cheerfulness brings blessings. It’s also about accepting with a grateful heart, and how that gratitude brings blessings as well.
Giving cheerfully usually isn’t too difficult, as those times when you are not cheerful you are less likely to part with stuff, right? So that part of the quote is fairly easy to do for most people.
The trick can be accepting, gratefully, a cheerfully given gift. “Oh look, it’s a fruitcake. How nice.” I believe we’ve all been there. When you’re a dad, you get to work on gratefully accepting yet another tie on Father’s day.
But, with a little practice, and with some compassion for the person giving the gift, it can be amazingly easy. You just have to focus on the other person, and not on yourself. And there you will find the blessing, hidden within the act of compassion for the feelings of the giver.
Why is having compassion in your heart important?
Compassion helps with both halves of the predicate in the quote, and is (in my opinion) the blessing spoken of in the conclusion of the quote. By having compassion in your heart, it is almost impossible to be anything other than cheerful, whether giving or just living.
When we accept anything with compassion in our heart, even a mud pie from a three-year old is a great gift, and a memory to be treasured. The dry cleaning of the clothes you were wearing while graciously accepting the mud pie, that’s a memory to forget, right?
But to me, the greatest part of all is the blessing at the end of the exchange. If either party has compassion in their heart, it’s almost certain to pass to the other person as well, which is a blessing to them.
And if both approach the exchange with compassion in their hearts, the blessing and the joy can be so strong as to be almost a physical thing. It might be a rare thing, but when it happens, all who see it or participate in it will remember it for a very long time.
Where can I apply this in my life?
When do you give others gifts, and when do you get gifts from others? That is a trick question. Even the act of saying “Hi!” or holding open a door is a gift given and a gift received, right? That should be a couple of times a day, unless your routine keeps you away from most other people.
So I guess you can use this pretty much every day, even multiple times a day. That means you will have lots of chances to practice and get better at giving and receiving with compassion in your heart. Now the question becomes how to practice and get better at this.
Here is what I try to do each time I give or receive a gift:
- I try to focus on the other person and helping them
- I try to focus on the joy of giving of myself to others
- I try to focus on the joy of receiving that which is given to me
- I try to ignore any slight, and remember why you have compassion
That’s a pretty short list, something that should be fairly easy to remember. Even if you forget three of them, if you focus on just one of them for a couple of days, you’re likely to improve at least a little bit, won’t you? And then you can work on a different item, right?
Is there something you would add to that list, or a different way you would list them or write them down? I use my way as an example, not as a rule, so feel free to adapt it to suit your needs and viewpoint. Feel free to leave a comment with how you arranged yours, so others have more choices.
Now take a moment and consider what you will do either later today or tomorrow to practice the emotion of compassion when helping, giving, or receiving. How will you help yourself remember not to just hold the door open because you’re there, but to actually have compassion in your heart and do this service cheerfully?
The whole point of the exercise is to find a way to bring more joy, more happiness, more compassion, and less selfishness into your life. By doing that, you will, almost without fail, spread at least a little joy, happiness, and compassion to the people with whom you interact.
And that is going to leave everyone feeling blessed. What are you waiting for? Get started right away, and help yourself and others feel better.