WellBeing

It’s in the receiving

The simple act of relating to others — in families, with friends or as a fleeting interaction between strangers — can be fraught with needless division, angst, self-doubt and confusion. This problem is often couched in goodwill, particularly in times of celebration when, we are told, it’s more important to give than to receive. In fact, the very act of giving is synonymous with selflessness and considered quintessentially good.

Yet is this assumption necessarily healthy, balanced or correct?

Giving presents is fun and traditional, sure, but did you ever stop to ask: what does it mean to give? Take, for example, my reaction to a door-to-door salesperson. I might see their lips move but I don’t hear the words. My mind’s voiceover suspiciously intercedes like a badly dubbed film, asking, “What are you selling?” Most people don’t feel connected to door-knocking salespeople because they have an agenda behind their smiles.

Seen in this context, giving is a state of separation, says Kim Hutchison, a teacher-healer at and author of . And it’s from this state that we’re often encouraged to relate to others. “We ask, ‘Am I giving enough?’ or ‘Am I giving too much?’” says

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