“Gracious acceptance is an art–an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving… Accepting another person’s gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you.” – Alexander McCall Smith, Love Over Scotland
We generally tend to think of generosity as the ability to give without expectations of anything in return. Yet we seldom take notice that, for generosity to exist, one individual must be willing to accept that which is given. Therefore, to practice generosity, one must also work to cultivate “gracious acceptance,” for it is through this art that we allow others to express their feelings for us.
We often refuse gifts or help from others out of a false sense of modesty, or a desire to seem humble to others. But on further analysis, by refusing the gifts or help of others, we appear the opposite of modest or humble. Instead, we inadvertently tell that person that we feel that we are better than they are–that their gifts are simply not good enough for us. And since we most likely do not feel this way at all, it is very important that we recognize this damaging behavior.
How does it feel when you give a gift to someone else, or help someone in need, and they show you gracious acceptance and gratitude? What about when they refuse it? By not showing gracious acceptance for the gifts or help of others, we are robbing them of the chance to have the feelings that come from generosity. Moreover, we are depriving them of the chance to experience what it means to give selflessly to another human being.
Of course, always practice generous giving throughout your life. At the same time, always remember that the art of gracious acceptance is just as important. One of the most selfless gifts we can give to others is to learn how to accept their generosity towards us.
Practice gracious acceptance of the gifts and help others give to you.
Questions to consider:
Which is easier: to give, or to receive? Why?
How does it make you feel when someone refuses your offer of a gift, of help, of advice?
What causes that feeling to come up?
For further thought:
“Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.” – Brene Brown