“When some people come in everyone lights up– and when some people go out everyone lights up.”
Getting has become a national obsession. How do I get the house, the car, the spouse, the money? How do I get what I want out of this meeting, this deal, this marriage? How do I get people to like me, love me, respect me? This obsessive consciousness of getting revolves around a very small, insecure sense of self. Sometimes this agenda of getting is subtle. Whenever you hear yourself say to someone, “How can you do that, after all I’ve done for?” — you know what you’ve “done” or “given” has had some serious getting strings attached.
We are not saying that knowing what we want from life is wrong, but rather, how do we approach life?
Michael Phelps, the most decorated swimmer in history, having won 23 Olympic medals, revealed that after every Olympics he sank into a deep depression. “I didn’t want to be in the sport anymore,” he said. “I didn’t want to be alive.” “You do contemplate suicide.” How can the man who got everything he wanted and strived for feel so utterly hopeless? In addition to his medals, Phelps was regularly fielding multi-million dollar endorsement deals. The star swimmer reports that his depression lifted when he did therapy and started offering stress management courses. Phelps goes on to say, his ability to help those struggling has been “way more powerful” than any of his athletic achievements. “Those moments and those feelings and those emotions for me are light years better than winning the Olympic gold medal.” Huh? What about getting what you want?
When we are in the consciousness of true giving, we are seeing others as fellow travelers in a storm, helping each other navigate. The consciousness of giving from an unattached heart can not only result in getting what we want, it can heal our emotional pain that thrives on isolation, fear, and trying to “get.”
This is demonstrated in the archetypal story of King Arthur. A kingdom was to be given to the man strong enough to pull out a sword embedded in rock. Knights from far and wide flocked to the rock and struggled to withdraw the sword. Each gave up in defeat. At the time Arthur was a page to a knight he was totally committed to in heart and mind. The knight became involved in a sword fight to the death. When the knight’s sword broke in half, Arthur ran to the rock and easily withdrew the sword so he could carry it back to the struggling knight. His concern for giving to another had both saved the knight and given Arthur the kingdom.
When someone walks through the door with an agenda to get from others it can be felt in our bones. We are on edge, wary, needing to guard our flank. A friend of mine once said, “I gave up on being close to Harry when he called to get money out of me for his political campaign. When I explained that I was paying off hospital bills he gave me sympathy and then came back at me again for a donation. I realized that every time he called me he was always trying to get something.”
When a giver walks in we relax, cozy up, we want to be near them. When Mother Theresa (now Saint Mother Theresa) went into the streets of Calcutta, she went alone. Her only agenda was to give and serve. By the end of her life she couldn’t go into public without being mobbed by admirers. When my mother, who was a giver, was dying, she would move around the house slowly. Like a human wave, we would move with her. You just wanted to be near mom.
At a recent spirituality conference there was a table of self help books. One book, How To Change Other People, was selling out fast. When asked about the book sales the seller joked, “I hope we don’t get a lot of returns. The book is about changing others by changing yourself. Its about learning to love and give to others.”
Click below to hear Deepak Chopra describe Abundance and the Law of Giving
“Today and Everyday I Give that which I want to Receive.”