Over the holidays one of my readers wrote to me saying that her husband had gotten her a great gift for Christmas (a sewing machine she’d had her eye on), and this year things were going to be different.
Howso? Well, in the past, she’d look at an extravagant gift and think about how much it had cost…and how “all that money” could be better spent on other things, more practical things.
She’d say thank you on Christmas Day — feel guilty — then a little while later she’d pack up the gift and return it. Then she’d use the money for something practical.
But this year — this year she was actually going to keep the gift.
Because the thing she realized — and really it’s the most important part of the story — was this: she was stealing joy his when she returned things.
After I heard a similar story from a friend whose husband surprised her out of the blue with the InstaPot he knew she’d been wanting for ages, I started asking myself “Why is it so difficult for us to accept compliments or gifts?”
- I love your sweater!! Really? I’ve had it for years.
- This quilt is absolutely gorgeous!! Oh…well, don’t look too close. I had trouble matching the points.
- Your ice skating performance was amazing!! Well, I was off balance on the landing and kinda two-footed the landing on the double axel.
- Dinner was delicious!! I don’t know. I thought there was a bit too much garlic.
When people say kind things, why do we feel a need to undercut their thoughtfulness or brush it aside? Why do we make it seem less? When someone surprises us with a present, why do we respond as if we don’t deserve to receive their gift?
Are we afraid if we smile and say thank you people will think we’ve “got the big head”? Are greedy for accepting that extravagant gift?
And what’s the end result?
The person who extended a hand of generosity is rebuffed. Their efforts are not appreciated.
We really are stealing their joy.
Because truly the best part of giving a gift is to see if that massive guessing game of “will s/he like like it?” was successful or not. Did I know my gift-ee well enough to find the perfect thing?
Because the best part of giving a compliment is seeing someone’s face light up because we’re really “seeing” them. The compliment makes it clear that they are visible and important to us.
This week make a point of giving at least one compliment to one person every single day. Give someone the gift of affirmation. Then watch how they respond.
Do they smile and say “thank you” or do they look a little bit awkward as if they’re not sure quite how to respond?
And for the second part of this week’s challenge, if someone gives you a gift or compliment, wear your heart on your sleeve.
SMILE….then say Thank You. Then think about how that makes you feel.