Why We Should All Focus On Giving, Rather Than Receiving

Written by Jennie Lee
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Upon waking each day we often start with thoughts of what we have to accomplish or acquire, quickly spinning us into action mode. But what if we spent the first few golden moments of the morning considering what we have to offer the day instead?

In the Yoga Sutras, we find two key principles that steer us toward this focus on offering, rather than the standard of looking for how we can get our share. These practices further our spiritual growth and bring us inner joy.

The first practice is found in the yama of ahimsa, teaching us to recognize the inherent connectedness and unity of all beings. Through this lens we see that what we have to offer another, we also give to ourselves. Compassion, respect, patience, gentleness … what goes around, comes around.

The second practice is found in the yama of aparigraha, instructing us to refrain from greed and acting in a self-serving manner. By embracing generous offering as a practice, we enter every situation that arises with an open heart. Rather than seeking to get our needs met first, we look for ways to give more than we take.

In religious or spiritual terminology, an offering symbolizes devotion and appreciation. It's a gesture that comes from the heart — an exchange of energy that comes from truly valuing what is being received.

Try asking yourself, “What do I have to offer the world today?”

It can be as simple as extending a listening ear to someone going through a hard time, or sharing a positive quote with a co-worker to inspire her. You could buy coffee for the person behind you in line just because, or do a chore at home that your partner typically does to lighten his or her load.

There are a million small ways to offer more into your circle of influence each and every day. And in addition, we can all consider what we have to offer the world at large as well. Can you contribute even a dollar to charity? Can you volunteer in your community for just one hour a week? Do you have an idea that would improve the lives of one, or a million and one? Do it!

Every single way in which we step out in a spirit of offering creates a ripple on the pond of humanity. That's what makes a positive difference overall. If giving, rather than getting, were our primary focus, we would experience far less conflict, greed and antagonism in the world. We can move in this direction by beginning each morning with the simple remembrance, “What can I offer life today?” Our hearts will lead us to the answer.

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