I love this season of Thanksgiving, when the emphasis is on love and family and gratitude. There is nothing like a large boisterous gathering, where people you’ve known your whole life travel to be with one another and give thanks for their blessings. It can be magical.
I am a big believer in giving thanks and in living a life full of gratitude. Doing that coming easily to me because I have worked to keep it top of mind. That’s another reason why I love Thanksgiving: it brings it back into our collective consciousness, if only for a few days.
There is another part to this story of gratitude and giving, and that is of receiving. I use the title “Thanks-getting” because is sounds a lot better than “Thanks-receiving”, but that is really what I am talking about. Getting is easy – receiving takes effort.
As a child, I realize now that I was not taught how to receive. I was taught how to be polite and what to say when someone gives you a gift. I can do that easily. When I receive a compliment, I have also learned how to say thank you, as I discussed in my past blog piece (“The Give and Take of Love”). But I was never really taught, through example, how to really receive what someone is giving you.
Think about a time you offered something to someone – a gift, a compliment, advice – and they really received it. They stopped, and looked in your eyes, and took in the moment and really appreciated the gift/words/gesture. It still takes me aback a bit when this happens. In my world it was more common to hear “You shouldn’t have!” – meaning, “Really, why did you do this?” Accepting gifts was not a big one in my family.
But how do you feel when you experience someone REALLY accepting your gift? It feels AMAZING. And where does it feel amazing? In your heart. That is because real receiving is a function of the heart. Merely getting something or saying a perfunctory “Thank you” is an exercise of the mind. The heart recognizes when a true receipt is acknowledged. The good feeling it creates gives you the desire to do more of that. What a great cycle to create!
This Thanksgiving, when the praise is going around about the wonderful meal you’ve cooked, or about your new job or promotion, or how good you look, really take the time to receive it. You’ll be giving the giver a gift as well. Who knows how long this love fest could continue if we learned how to really receive from the heart?!