Posts Tagged ‘recognition’
Most of us realize that gratitude is one of the best ways to enhance our ability to receive. We would do well to remember that the opposite of being grateful for something is to take it for granted, and being the opposite of gratitude, taking things for granted has a comparably negative effect on receiving.
Sure, I appreciate my loved ones, home, employment, and other things close to me that I treasure, as I imagine you do. However, it was the passing of Helen Blanchard on May 11 that got me thinking about what people and things I take for granted. Who is Helen Blanchard? She was the first female Toastmaster, who had to join under the pseudonym of “Homer” Blanchard in the early 1970s because women were not allowed membership. Thanks to Helen and her male club president who pushed the envelope, I now enjoy the benefit of Toastmaster membership.
How about women such as Margaret Sanger and Katharine McCormick who fifty years ago fought for women’s right to have access to the pill? Although it was available, many doctors tried to keep it from their patients. And ladies, as you cast your ballot in the last election, did you stop to give silent thanks for the countless women (and men) around the world who labored for over 40 years for women’s right to vote? Finally, next week we celebrate Memorial Day and hopefully pause to appreciate the men and women who have served for our freedom. As I think about it, there are so many things I value every single day that I fail to actively give thanks for.
In addition to all these public figures, there are the people in my life and yours who extended themselves and improved our lives in the process: the teacher who took the time to explain, the boss who gave you a chance, the stranger who returned your lost wallet, the aunt who really listened to you, and classmate who stood up for you.
Is it possible to take nothing for granted? Probably not, but we can do better. Next time you take a medication, silently recognize not only the researchers but those who participated in the studies to test its efficacy. Let’s remember the sacrifice of our farmers, our elected officials who serve, and the over 64 million people who volunteered in one capacity or another in our country last year. Maybe one of them was you. If so, I thank you!
“Help given to others is a better predictor of health and well-being than are indicators of…received social support.” This research conclusion reported in the Berkeley Wellness Letter June 2013 caught my attention for a couple of reasons.
First, it reinforces the need to receive others’ offers of help. It won’t just allow them feel good; it could literally extend their lives, according to the research. People who experienced stressful events had a lower chance of dying for the next five years if they had provided help to others. It was the providing support to others rather than the support they received during their hardship that made the difference.
Another point that struck a chord with me was the type of help offered: providing transportation, running errands, doing shopping, preparing meals, and performing housework. These are common tasks for caregivers, things most of us do daily for ourselves and our loved ones. As Baby Boomers, the largest generation yet, age, the need for caregivers will increase. It’s encouraging to learn that the stressful role of caregiver affords concrete health benefits. Finally, John Swartzberg, M.D. notes that although the health benefits of giving affect people of all ages, those of retirement age seem to reap the greatest rewards. What a terrific win-win opportunity for those contemplating retirement!
So in conclusion, while it’s not better to give than to receive, giving is still an effective way to set yourself up to receive, especially if receiving is not your intention. We give because we want to help others and because it enhances self-esteem and mood and gives us a greater sense of purpose. As result, we may have a few more years to enjoy these outcomes.
Is it hard to see others receive when you’ve been striving to receive and it just hasn’t happened? Valentine’s Day may be a joyous day for many, but for singles who long for a relationship, it can be a painful reminder of how alone they are. If you find yourself feeling discouraged and maybe envious when others receive what you desire, take heart. This is a perfect opportunity to shift your thinking and use the experience to get you moving toward your goal.
A few years ago I attended a group dinner with some people I know but don’t see often. Two of the couples were experiencing serious financial challenges. One couple owns a business. They’d lost a couple of major accounts and told us that evening that they had had enough. By the end of the year they planned to close their business and relocate out of state. The other couple had lost their cherished home when the housing market crashed and he lost his six-figure job. Shortly afterward the wife had gotten laid off after 15 years of employment with her company. Unlike the first couple, they were still struggling to assess their options and had no plans in place. I had my own professional and financial issues at the time, so these were sobering conversations to hear, especially since both couples had previously been very successful for many years.
Last month, I attended another dinner with these same folks. It turns out that the first couple never did relocate. They hung on and diversified their business. The original revenue stream continues on a smaller scale, and they have now developed a very profitable related line of business. The second couple has also turned the corner. He found a well-paying position in his field in town (his previous consulting job took him across the country most of the time), and she began working full time for an employer she had worked for during the summer. As a full time employee, she even has health insurance for her husband and her, saving them hundreds of dollars each month. They are still renting, but look forward to buying a home again within a year.
While I have not yet achieved that level of success with my goals, I found this evening very uplifting. If this can happen for not one, but both couples, why shouldn’t it happen for me (and you)? I received two lessons from their experience. The first is to be patient and not give up. These couples did what my grandparents’ generation did during the Great Depression. They rode it out. The second insight is that we don’t have to be happy campers through it all in order to be blessed in the end. I know that both couples dealt with depression, discouragement, anger, frustration, and shame as they isolated themselves from family and friends. Yet like the mythical phoenix, they have risen!
Celebrate every success you hear about. See their good fortune as contagious. Success is in the air! Thank God for their answered prayer and for yours, on the way.
Last week I attended the funeral of a very beloved man named Bob who clearly knew how to give. The chapel was filled for his service and those that spoke on his behalf consistently commented on his generosity and giving spirit. One speaker made a point to say that Bob was not “a taker.” This statement, clearly accurate about Bob, got me thinking about the difference between receiving and taking.
I think one of the reasons so many people resist receiving is because they confuse it with taking. In reality, these are very different actions. To receive, there first must be a giver. To receive, something has to be offered to you. It’s the opposite with taking, however. Taking implies the thing has not been offered, so if it is to be acquired, the would-be receiver must act to get it. With receiving, the process is initiated by the giver. With taking, it’s the taker that performs the primary action, and the suggestion is that the thing taken belongs to someone else.
In truth, “taking” is a more complex term than I realized. An online search revealed 41 definitions for “take” ranging from the innocuous “take a photo” to “take someone” as in to cheat. Among the 41, there are a few relevant meanings where the taker is not the initiator. The first is to “claim or assume something” as in to “take the blame.” Another is to “accept something” as valid and true, such as to “take criticism.” Finally we have to “bear something” as in “take abuse.” None of these uses fits my description of taking above. They are examples of where we can accept something (criticism or blame, for instance), but we don’t have to receive it. We can acknowledge what the other person is saying, but we don’t have to believe that it’s true; we choose to let it go.
Thankfully it really isn’t difficult to distinguish receiving from taking. We know when something is being offered to us. When we receive, both we and the giver are blessed, and that’s a good thing.
I often write and speak about the many reasons why it’s good to receive. One of the most important is that when we receive, we simultaneously give. Yes, that’s right. What we give is the opportunity for the giver to give. This is not a trivial point, because giving is filled with rewards, and when we won’t receive, no giving can take place.
I’ve interviewed many professional caregivers over the past few months. One of the questions I like to ask them is to describe for me a difficult client. Often they tell me it’s the person who resists their care. Unfortunately it’s not uncommon for seniors to refuse to accept the fact that they need help. This failure to receive is demoralizing for the caregiver. It also impacts the senior’s family members, usually their adult children, who are left with both concern over their welfare and the task of keeping their parents safe.
Our failure to receive graciously often affects others. I recall a date I had years ago. My date and I were at a club with several of his friends. When the server brought the check, my date and one of his friends argued over who would pay the tab, both of them insisting on footing the bill. Generally, offering to pay is a kind act, but this went to extremes, with neither one willing to allow the other to give. Those of us at the table became quite uncomfortable, and the unfortunate server was caught in the middle, prevented from moving on to serve others and puzzled who should receive the bill. Sadly neither man realized that allowing the other one to give would have been an act of generosity.
If you’re reading my column, I know you know how good it feels to give! Share that experience with others by learning to receive with grace and ease. We’ll all be blessed as a result.
I’ve always enjoyed the stories where the author presents alternative endings and allows the reader to choose their favorite. Today I offer one to you. A bright, enthusiastic young woman wanted to get an advanced degree. She consulted experts in the field and her academic advisor, selected several schools that had programs meeting her goals, and applied to each.
Ending #1 – Despite her best efforts, she was not accepted by any of the schools. Whatever it was that she needed to do or be, she didn’t achieve it, so she failed. Feeling like a failure, she became stuck in negative emotions such as discouragement, disappointment, and low self esteem.
Ending #2 – Despite her best efforts, she was not accepted by any of the schools. She had done a really good job on her applications and interviews, but in each case someone else did just a little bit better and was selected over her. Tough break. Feeling like a victim, she doubted the advice she was given and became angry, frustrated, and sad.
Ending #3 – Despite her best efforts, she was not accepted by any of the schools. The Universe had something better for her that she didn’t yet know about. Feeling panicky at first, she remembered that God adores her and that all things work together for good for those who trust. She recognized her fear as just a sensation and did her best to remain open and see what good would unfold for her.
What ending would you choose? Haven’t we all seen each of these endings play out? Another question to ask ourselves is which scenario is true? I realized this week that having earned a degree in math, I spent years immersed in the thought that there is always one right answer. However quantum physicists have shown that the expectations of the observer affect the outcome. When researchers had scientists view identical specimens under a microscope, each one saw what they expected to see – and they were not the same!
The truth is that our power lies in our ability to choose the thoughts we hold. We make the ending true simply by choosing it. No wonder Marianne Williamson said we are powerful beyond measure!
Last time I looked at the characteristics of wide receivers, people who receive for a living. Wide receivers are players on a football team that the quarterback throws the ball to. The best wide receivers are quick, agile, able to concentrate and shut out distractions, and ready and able to take a hit.
Quarterbacks depend on wide receivers for their success. If the ball is not caught, the play is incomplete and the quarterback has failed. Worse yet, if the ball is caught by the opposing team (intercepted), the quarterback has actually hurt his team. So a strong connection and effective communication between the quarterback and the wide receiver is essential. The quarterback relies on the wide receiver doing everything he can within the rules of the game to receive what the quarterback gives, the pass. Can you imagine a football game with a wide receiver that resisted receiving?
Another key component to being a competent wide receiver is the willingness and ability to take a hit. Wide receivers are the focus of the opposing team’s players. They do all they can to prevent him from receiving, and when he does, they tackle him to the ground. Can you imagine your competition at work literally taking you down after you made a sale or delivered a service? Yet that is exactly what the wide receiver endures, over and over.
Should you expect to take any hits as you receive? Quite possibly, unfortunately. It’s not uncommon for lottery winners to find they have strained or even severed relationships with greedy family members or jealous co-workers. Even after sharing their good fortune, some continue to get hit with requests, pleas, and expectations from other people, sometimes even strangers. As a human resources director, I often counseled newly promoted supervisors about how to handle “hits” they got from envious co-workers who did not get the job or those who simply resented them for receiving a promotion. Likewise at work, people and teams that get attention, compliments or praise for a job well done can receive unjustified criticism from others who feel overlooked or frustrated.
I encourage you to keep the wide receiver in mind should you find yourself receiving uncalled-for hits when you receive. Remember, it’s just part of the process. The wide receiver endures the hits because he has prepared for them and expects them. He isn’t insulted or discouraged by the hits, and neither should you be. Jealously and resentment stem from scarcity thinking, and your willingness to receive is one of the best gifts you can give to heal humanity of its lack and limitation consciousness.
“There is good for me and I ought to have it.” Emma Curtis Hopkins
Want to become a better receiver? Let’s learn from people who do it for a living – wide receivers! A wide receiver in American and Canadian football is the pass-catching specialist. Wide receivers are among the fastest and most agile players in the game, and they are frequently featured in the game highlights. Just what is it that makes a good wide receiver and what can we learn from them about receiving?
According to football coaches, speed is the number one quality of top wide receivers. They need to be able to get up to speed immediately and to change direction without losing speed, as well. However, if speed is not the wide receiver’s greatest asset, this can be offset by “precise pattern execution, complete focus on the ball when it is thrown his way, and the ability to get away from defensive players or find the holes between zone coverages” (http://www.footballscrimmage.com/articles/wide-receiver-characteristics.shtml).
That means successful wide receivers are able to concentrate during each step of the play and ultimately shut all else out as they focus on the ball coming toward them. Then they must be ready to “take a hit” after catching the ball. Finally, they must be in strong enough condition to do this over and over during the game.
Doesn’t sound very easy, does it? Of all the characteristics and skills described above to be a good receiver, agility and concentration are most applicable to receiving in general. Recognizing that what you are seeking may appear differently than you expected requires agility in your thinking. It also may show up sooner than you think or when you least expect it, such as meeting the love of your life in the produce department of the supermarket. Staying focused on what your ultimate goal is, in spite of distractions, delays, and obstacles, is certainly a form of concentration.
There is one more critical skill to look at – the ability to “take a hit.” Join me next week for more on that.
“It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32
This verse is a favorite of many of my spiritual teachers, and it’s become one of mine, too. Why not? Who doesn’t like the idea of a generous Creator who delights in blessing us? What’s more, I’m told that these good things come to us freely, without condition and without the need to earn them first.
To illustrate the level of generosity that we’re offered we have the story of the prodigal son. Remember him? He left home, squandered his inheritance, and came back, humbled and ashamed, to throw himself on his father’s mercy. What did he find? Not only did his father respond with overwhelming generosity, his father was waiting for his return and ran down the road to welcome him home.
So why is it that at times we don’t find ourselves equally blessed? Why do our prayers appear to go unanswered? I’ve studied, pondered, and prayed over this question many times. I’ve concluded that I withhold from myself the blessings intended for me through my own unrealistic expectations and perfectionism. In short, it’s my lack of self compassion that blocks me from receiving. Declaring myself unworthy, I punish myself for my seeming failures and shortcomings.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I frequently find people to be much more generous and forgiving toward others than they are toward themselves. A quick search of “self compassion” on Amazon reveals page after page of books on the topic, confirming that authors agree.
Thankfully, I’m learning to see the difference between striving to be and do my best and expecting myself to be perfect. I spend a few minutes every day consciously feeling God’s love for me. Oh, I’ll continue to do the best I can, but because it serves the world, not to earn the blessings I desire.
Have you heard the expression “We make plans and Gods laughs”? Unlike “Satan, get behind me,” I really dislike this saying. I think planning is very wise and God-ordained. It’s certainly well based in Scripture. Noah planned the ark, Jacob had a plan to win his beloved, Moses and David had countless plans to keep the Israelites safe, and the temple Solomon built was planned in great detail. Jesus was no different, with plans to change water into wine, obtain funds to pay taxes (from the fish’s mouth, remember?), make the Last Supper arrangements, and even care for his mother after his death. No, I don’t think God laughs when we’re doing our best to manage our lives.
That said, there are times when things are just not in our hands. Despite our best efforts, events can take an unexpected turn. I can quickly recall several times my life took an unplanned and traumatic twist, such as:
- When my water broke just 26 weeks into my pregnancy with my twin daughters.
- The day my manager called me into the office and told me to go get my purse because my job had been eliminated effective immediately.
- The time the moving van arrived six hours late for our relocation from upstate New York to Las Vegas, and the movers had all of our possessions spread across the front lawn at 10pm.
- The three days I spent sick in bed in a Las Vegas hotel with my nine year-old daughters tending to me while their father went on to Phoenix to meet our possessions when they arrived (relocations never seem to be in my hands!)
- The call that my dad had passed, just hours after he was released from the hospital.
I could continue, but you get the point. In fact, I imagine you started your own list as you were reading mine! Reflecting on all this, I still see value in planning, especially if we want to receive with grace and ease. Let’s avoid getting too attached to those plans, however, and remember to recognize when things just aren’t in our hands. Let’s surrender to the moment and affirm that Divine Order is at work, regardless of appearances. It’s typically during these traumatic times that we receive our greatest blessings, unplanned as they are.