Ask not what you can expect from life;
ask what life expects from you.
What are we going to get out of life? This can
understandably be a question of fundamental importance to
us. We begin with certain basic needs and desires. It
is important to have a comfortable home, plenty of food, a
meaningful and well-paying job, comfort, companionship, and
joy. However, many of us have not fully realized a simple,
basic principle: for our receiving to take place, we must
first give. Giving and receiving are two aspects of the same
law of life.
President John F. Kennedy advised Americans, "Ask not what
your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your
country." This is an expression of the law of giving and
receiving, and it applies to everyone in our world. For
example, if we seek a certain type of employment and there are no
jobs available in that area, we might see if there is some
volunteer position to be found in our area of interest.
Rather than demanding of life that we receive the job we want, we
ask if there is anything we can give. Through volunteering,
we gain experience and contacts, and, often, the job we've been
seeking eventually becomes ours.
Lowell Fillmore shared a special thought about giving. He
said, "Those who think they have nothing to give should
remember that they can always give themselves, and that they can
always render some kind of service even if it be nothing more than
a few words of cheer."
The gift of ourself,
our time, and energy may often be one of the most important and
wonderful things we can give. On a rainy afternoon a kindly
old gentleman noticed a newsboy shivering in a doorway trying to
protect his papers from the rain. As he bought a paper, the
gentleman said, "My boy, aren't you terribly cold standing
here?" The boy looked up with a smile and replied,
"I was, sir, before you came."
Every time an opportunity comes your way that allows you to give,
welcome that opportunity with open arms! It may be heaven's
call to fulfill your highest destiny. And the attitude of
the giver may be more important than the gift itself. It has
been said, "The manner of giving is worth more than the
gift." It is often easy to forget about giving when we
are constantly advised to "go for it" and "get
ahead" in life. We may become so busy taking advantage
of what life has to offer that we overlook the opportunity to give
back something in return. Life's gifts that we continually
benefit from are, in themselves, a good reason to develop and
maintain an attitude of gratitude. Many of us want love and
companionship, but it is a law of life that we must first be
loving and friendly if we would attract to us the love and
companionship we desire. We give and then we receive.
It is often true that we must first release negative attitudes and
judgments about other people for our love to be given.
The law of giving and receiving also asks us to be good
receivers. As we give of ourselves, our time and resources,
our positive attitudes and loving thoughts and actions, it is also
important to be able to receive the gifts of others in a graceful
way. Everyone truly loves to give, and there are times when
we are being of service by graciously receiving what another would
give us--when we find a way to say, "Thank you, I accept your
The law of giving and receiving is basic to a life of successful
and graceful living. If we are feeling a lack in some area,
our first thought could increasingly be, "What can I
give? What do I have to give?" If we remain open
and receptive, we will know how we may give. The more we
give, the more we receive.
Laws of Life is full of
wisdom drawn from the major
sacred Scriptures of the world and
various schools of philosophical
thought, as well as from scientists,
artists, historians, and others. Its
aim is to assist people of all ages
to learn more about the universal
truths of life that transcend modern
times or particular cultures. This
treasury of practical morality,
personal inspiration, and daily
guidance is perfect for people
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