Giv­ing and Tak­ing: Find­ing Bal­ance Be­tween the Two

Find­ing Bal­ance Be­tween the Two

American Senior - - NEWS - By MELISSA MAYNTZ

In to­day’s cul­ture, giv­ing and tak­ing have very clear as­so­ci­a­tions. Giv­ing is con­sid­ered kind, gen­er­ous, char­i­ta­ble, and an all around pos­i­tive, ad­mirable char­ac­ter­is­tic. Tak­ing, on the other hand, is more of­ten con­sid­ered self­ish, ma­nip­u­la­tive, greedy, or other­wise nega­tive. In truth, how­ever, both giv­ing and tak­ing are nec­es­sary for an even, bal­anced life, and if you have too much of either one you will be un­happy. But how do you strike that bal­ance of giv­ing to oth­ers as well as tak­ing for your­self?

Giv­ing al­ways seems the more prefer­able side of this bal­ance, and there are many ways we all give. We give our skills, time, and la­bor at work or vol­un­teer­ing, we give gifts to other peo­ple and we give of our­selves when we are good lis­ten­ers, sup­port­ive friends, lov­ing spouses, and in­volved fam­ily mem­bers. We give smiles to strangers and do­na­tions to char­i­ties. Giv­ing can make us feel happy and ful­filled, and is a great way to be part of our com­mu­nity.

Tak­ing is just as com­mon as giv­ing, but it is not nearly so eas­ily rec­og­nized. We take ben­e­fits from our work, both as a pay­check as well as health care, pen­sions, and pro­mo­tions. We take gifts from other peo­ple, or we take ad­van­tage of com­mu­nity ser­vices, such as us­ing parks, li­braries, or mu­se­ums. If we ac­cept awards, com­pli­ments, or recog­ni­tion, that is also a form of tak­ing.

It is too easy, how­ever, to give or take too much. When we give too much, we have no time left for our­selves or our in­ter­ests, and all that we give may come to be ex­pected rather than ap­pre­ci­ated. Our sched­ule be­comes over­crowded, and we may not be able to keep all our com­mit­ments. This builds re­sent­ment and makes us less will­ing to con­tinue giv­ing as we get frus­trated and fa­tigued.

When we take too much, we lose our con­fi­dence and self-es­teem be­cause we feel we can’t ac­com­plish

“Giv­ing can make us feel happy and ful­filled, and is a great way to be part of our com­mu­nity.”

tasks or meet goals with­out help. We may feel bad about ru­mors or mis­con­cep­tions about why we have to take, and we may lose friends as they be­come tired of giv­ing too much to us.

When look­ing for a bal­ance be­tween giv­ing and tak­ing, there is one great mis­con­cep­tion most peo­ple have—that it must be equal. In fact, our giv­ing and tak­ing bal­ance never needs to be fifty-fifty, and very rarely will it be. Every­one’s needs and abil­i­ties are dif­fer­ent, and how much one per­son gives or takes may be very dif­fer­ent than an­other per­son’s in­di­vid­ual bal­ance. We each need to find our own bal­ance that helps make our life ful­fill­ing both when we give and when we take.

It can be very easy to in­crease the giv­ing in our daily lives. While larger giv­ing can mean vol­un­teer­ing for a work com­mit­tee or join­ing a com­mu­nity group to of­fer your ser­vices for char­ity, giv­ing can also mean sim­ply of­fer­ing sin­cere com­pli­ments to oth­ers or do­ing small things to make oth­ers smile. It might be help­ing out a friend who needs a ride, do­ing a load of laun­dry for an ail­ing neigh­bor, or choos­ing to in­crease a do­na­tion to a church, school, or other char­ity. More giv­ing might just be smil­ing even when you don’t feel like it or wav­ing a driver into traf­fic in front of you in­stead of cut­ting them off. Ev­ery time you give, you will feel more pos­i­tive and your own hap­pi­ness will swell.

For many peo­ple, giv­ing more can be easy, but you don’t need to take less when you give more. If you want to find bal­ance, you need to take more as well. That doesn’t mean, how­ever, that you need to take ad­van­tage of oth­ers or use more re­sources than you truly need. Tak­ing can be as easy as gra­ciously ac­cept­ing com­pli­ments, del­e­gat­ing tasks when you’re over­whelmed, or us­ing ben­e­fits you have earned, such as days off, dis­counts, or other re­wards. Tak­ing may also be sim­ply re­serv­ing time for your­self, such as to en­joy a fa­vorite hobby, re­lax with a good book, go to a movie, or take a walk with­out feel­ing guilty about the time, ef­fort, or money you’re spend­ing on what you like to do. This type of tak­ing can help re­fresh your spirit so you are able to give even bet­ter, keep­ing that del­i­cate bal­ance in check.

How can you judge if you’ve reached a giv­ing and tak­ing bal­ance? From one day to the next, that bal­ance may change, but you should be giv­ing as much as you are com­fort­able and tak­ing what you need. Count­ing your bless­ings, re­flect­ing in a grat­i­tude jour­nal, or re­count­ing the good and bad parts of each day can help you see where you may need to ad­just your bal­ance as you learn what types of giv­ing and tak­ing work best for you. Tak­ing care­ful note of oth­ers’ re­ac­tions to your giv­ing and tak­ing as well as try­ing to be less judg­men­tal of oth­ers’ bal­ance can also help you reach and main­tain a healthy giv­ing and tak­ing bal­ance of your own. When you find that bal­ance, you will find a richer, hap­pier, more ful­fill­ing life to en­joy. ■

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