You Didn’t Have To Do That

Thoughts On Giving and Receiving

That was unnecessary. You didn’t have to do that. That’s what we say when presented with a generous gift or someone goes out of their way to do something thoughtful. Saying “thank you” can feel inadequate, and often we are more comfortable giving than receiving. My father’s standard response to anyone who tells him he “didn’t have to do that” is to say: “Life would be boring if I just did what I had to do.” Tony’s right, so take the gift!

St. Francis of Assisi said, “For it is in giving that we receive.” When intentions are genuine, the reverse is also true because by accepting a gift we are allowing the giver to experience the joy of giving in whatever form that might be taking, be it a material gift, kind word, gesture, shared talent or expertise. By receiving graciously you are letting that person know that he or she has something valuable to offer and that you are appreciative.

Just as breathing consists of both inhaling and exhaling —you cannot have one without the other— it is also true that a balance of giving and receiving is essential for optimal health and well-being.

I’m sure you can think of times when it felt as if you were giving too much to a situation or relationship. It probably resulted in both physical and emotional fatigue as well as a degree of resentment. Likewise, always being on the receiving end of things would feel incomplete. While relationships don’t need to be even-steven nor can you keep score, raising your awareness of the universal cycle of giving and receiving will enhance the depth of your experiences. Witness a baby handing you a mushy handful of food or a young child offering a collection of hand-picked posies and it is evident that they are tuned in to the natural rhythm of giving and receiving that is part of our makeup.

Jeffrey’s Scholarship

A few months ago I received a phone call from someone who coached with me last year through the In the Current® Scholarship Program. Bringing a distinct zest to everything he does, Jeffrey is currently working as an insurance agent. He enjoys connecting with people and views every day as an opportunity to “help people and make them happier.” An artist by nature with diverse entrepreneurial interests, one of Jeffrey’s greatest joys is “bringing art to where it normally wouldn’t be.”

Though not yet 30 years old, Jeffrey is already passionate about giving to causes he believes in such as childhood cancer or the physical therapy organization that helped him as a child dealing with Cerebral Palsy. Declaring himself a "professional faller," Jeffrey’s sense of humor and light-heartedness are assets that have served him well.

On that particular phone call, Jeffrey informed me that things were going well at his new job and that it was now his pleasure to begin funding a future spot in the In the Current® Scholarship Program. “I so appreciated being able to have a coaching scholarship and it’s important to me to give back,” explained Jeffrey. This wonderful example which demonstrates the interconnectedness between giving and receiving continues to inspire me.

With A Gracious Heart

Be a Good Receiver:

  • Open to the possibility of receiving more fully. Believe good things can happen, that you deserve them, and appreciate the smallest of gifts.
  • Be specific when communicating your needs to others who want to help you.
  • Be gracious. If you hear yourself saying “You didn’t have to do that,” follow it up with “but you did and I appreciate it.” Practice the art of saying thank you.

Be a Good Giver:

  • Give consciously. Distinguish between what you need to give and what you want and choose to give. Do not give more than feels right.
  • Give financially when you can and also think of ways to give that don’t involve spending large amounts of money. Often those are the most meaningful.
  • On a daily basis, remember the impact that even the smallest of gestures can have. One kind word sincerely delivered can change someone’s life.

This Week’s Call to Action:

  • Are you due for some receiving? — Make note of the gifts both large and small that present themselves to you.
  • What kind of giving brings you joy? — Notice all the ways you give to others throughout the course of a week and which interactions are most enriching.

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that
no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here's to you,
Ginny Kravitz's signature

© 2011, Virginia M. Kravitz and In the Current®. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to reproduce this article provided it is without any alteration, includes the copyright above, and if distributing electronically includes a link to

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