Between Receiving And Giving

“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” ~ Arthur Ashe … 

I will get a lot of stuff in my life–some given, some earned, and some acquired by chance. And I can certainly make a living with all the stuff I have obtained and will come into possession of in the future. But I must be careful not to let this become the focus of my life–the purpose of my living. I have seen firsthand some of the negative effects of folks who lose perspective concerning the importance of the balance between receiving and giving. They tend to amass a collection of things that really do not make them happy while they are alive, and when they retire from this life, they leave behind all of the “stuff” that others–who most likely have no use for these things–have to deal with now as well. However, if instead these folks could recognize the potential in giving while they are alive, they might be able to leave others with so much more.

For many of us, there is a disconnect between what we have come to think is important in life, and what we truly know in our hearts to be so. When this occurs, we begin to allow vanity to set in–we start to care about how others see us, and focus on what we earn, what we accumulate, and how much more we can get. This desire to impress others encourages us to focus more on self-serving ambitions instead of selflessness, service, and generosity.

It is a goal of mine to be able to contribute positively to the lives of others while I am here in this world. And in doing so, I hope that others remember me for all the good and positive that I have given towards them–encouragement, financial contributions, direction, support, friendship, compassion, forgiveness, mercy, love, and so much more. When I think about what I want to leave for others when I pass on from life, the only things that are meaningful involve me giving.

The money that I earn, and the things that I acquire, helps me to make a living; and the contributions I make to the lives of others helps to make my life something larger and much more complete. The question Arthur poses for us above is simply this: Do we impress others more because we have enough income to buy certain things, or do we try to impress them because we practice enough selflessness that we can make their time on this planet less difficult and more rewarding? One is making a living… and the other is making a life.

Give selflessly to the needs of others as you go about the day.

Questions to consider:

Whence comes our tendency to focus so much on what we get in life?

What makes you feel better–helping someone else in a significant way, or getting the newest toy?

What is the difference between making a living and making a life?

For further thought:

“The hoarders, who are anxiously worried about losing something, are, psychologically speaking, the poor impoverished people, regardless of how much they have. Whoever is capable of giving of themselves is rich.” ~ Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving


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Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

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