Recently I was reading Wayne Dyer’s “The Power of Intention.” He talks about how when we are kind we get a shot of seratonin. But not just the giver of kindness, the receiver and anyone watching gets a shot too.

Interesting. So giving changes our brain chemistry. I took that and filed it away. Then I had this experience.

I went to a great workshop given by the people at Human Awareness Institute. They do workshops about love, intimacy and sexuality; their mission is very much in alignment with mine:

“The Human Awareness Institute (HAI) empowers individuals to be potent, loving, contributing human beings. HAI promotes personal growth and social evolution by replacing ignorance and fear with awareness and love.

“HAI aims to create a world where people live together in dignity, respect, understanding, trust, kindness, compassion, honesty and love. The Human Awareness Institute is committed to creating a world where everyone wins.”

The title of the workshop was “Community.” The real theme of this workshop in my opinion, was about giving and receiving.

Their workshops in general are about how we can take really great care of ourselves. I always feel good leaving any of their workshops or events because there’s a lot there about kindness, being really amazing to each other and non-sexual touch (and who can’t use more touch!).

This time, after being loved up, we were really encouraged to communicate and give each other feedback about how we show up in community. I got really positive feedback about how I show up which was exciting because I want people to like me. After taking it in I realized that this was more about how I can show up when I’m full of love – when I’ve received all that I need. That getting what I need makes me really available to give.

Being full of love and positively reinforced inspired happiness – to show up more, be more playful, supportive, loving, and appreciative. That, in turn meant that I had a greater capacity and could receive more which meant that people wanted to give me more – hugs, cuddles, conversation, attention. More people wanted to be with me and that was more positive reinforcement, which made me happier and that lead to more positive feedback and more availability and more receiving so on. A big happy circle of love. Yay!

It made it clear that when I’m full and happy that I am a gift to my community, I am available, loving and helpful (not a surprise, right?).

So receiving makes me feel good and that makes me available and that makes others feel good and want to do nice things for me and each other. Receiving well made me available for giving.

That is not the message that we usually get about receiving. The message we usually get looks more like “don’t be greedy” or “you should be contributing” or “don’t be selfish.” We are discouraged from receiving because it might make us look selfish or dependent. And in America one of the worst things in the world is dependency.

That, my friends, is a trap. We need each other.

I can hear you saying “I’m independent! I don’t need anyone!” Do you… make all your own food? All your own clothes? Fix your own car? Built your own house? Built that cell phone you use to call your clients on? No. We need each other even in the most basic ways. Pretending we don’t is another lie Americans tell themselves in order to sleep at night.

Take a moment – yes right now – to get present to all the people who give to you. You might even pay them, but it’s others labor, genius, ingenuity and skills that make our lives go. Who makes your life go?

Receiving is a quality that is critical to completing the circuit of giving, but not something widely expressed, explained, or even acknowledged. I’ve heard about it and even talked about it and experienced it before, but getting it in my body again and watching others in response to me had me get something more that I hadn’t gotten before.

Receiving is necessary for giving. Receiving is necessary for the giver to feel understood and appreciated.

Think about it this way, if you went to a birthday party and spent time choosing a present and the birthday girl was not interested in it and ignored you, how would you feel?

Yo’d probably have a range of emotions: not seen, not understood, taken for granted, sad, frustrated maybe angry. Are you likely to give them something in the future? Probably not.

Why? (And this is the question that we don’t ask.)

Because you were not received.

If on the other hand, that same birthday girl is thrilled to receive your gift and goes around showing people at the party and puts the present in a place of honor and gives you a big hug, how does that feel? Are you likely to give to her again? Yes!

When you’re seeking a business transaction, what are you really looking for?

To give and receive. Some one to give to you – to give you money. In fact these transactions are the full circuit. You want them to receive the gifts you give and you want to receive the money they have to give.

Well if you want someone to give to you, you have to be available to receive them. Some of that is logistical: the thing/service has to be ready, well-formed and available. But the other piece is emotional: you have to be prepared to receive their contribution – their money, time, energy, excitement for whatever they have to give.

You have to be available on both sides of the coin: available to give and to receive.

We’re often available (or pretend we’re available) to give. We know our service or our gift and we’re prepared to give it. But what happens when they give to you? Do you receive it?

Money can be spent anywhere. Even necessities like grocery stores are so abundant that one need never shop at any grocery store you don’t love. There is a lot of choice. So choosing a practitioner, service provider or product vendor is a huge gift.

Stop for a moment and take that in. The money that your client or boss or friend, partner, parents are giving you, for whatever reason, is a gift. It’s a sacred trust. My clients give me money to help them transform their relationship with resources.

In order to do that, I really need to get them and understand what money means to them, ,to take time and open to who they really are. For me it’s a sacred trust that someone is willing to open up enough to share a piece of their soul with me.

It is a gift to be given that level of trust by our clients for products or services. Gift. The definition of a gift is something given voluntarily and a special ability or capacity. In giving your gift, you’re giving a gift.

I wonder what would happen if you decided that you were a gift – that you could give what you wanted as you felt really good about it. What happens when you receive your client’s money with joy and openness? What happens when you give to your clients joyfully and with a generous spirit? If you turned every act of work into an act of kindness, how would the chemistry in your brain be?