Give What You Want to Get / by Michelle Cowan

A short reminder for everyone: Give what you want to get. It works!

I often feel that I work so hard to reach out to people and stay connected only to receive nothing in return. Sometimes it seems as if I give and give and am still left with days devoid of anyone reaching out to me. I want to feel connected with people, but I even more deeply desire for that connection to be initiated by someone else. I don’t want to have to call or go visit. I want to be invited.

Well, such is not life most of the time, at least for me. I have to reach out first, and then, more often than not, I receive a flood of phone calls and maybe a couple of invitations, reminding me that I am reached out to when I take that first, difficult step of getting outside my own head and calling out into the world. Usually, a simple phone call to a person I think will appreciate it starts the ball rolling.

Perhaps the human life is, ultimately, a lonely one. Mine certainly feels that way much of the time. But that loneliness can spur us on to give to others and seek connection. I seem to prefer alone time more than most people, but I do not want to wither away without deeply knowing other people or being equally known by others. This longing draws me out, even when I think, “I’ve certainly made enough effort in the last two weeks to invite people places, call them, or give them things. Why does no one call me on the spur of the moment? I’m going to wait it out until someone calls.” Eventually, I realize that I have, in fact, received many a spur-of-the-moment call. I am invited a great many places, although oftentimes, they are not invitations I feel inclined to accept.

The fact is, I already have the love I seek within me. When I call someone, even when I think I’ve already made plenty of gestures that should warrant some incoming affection, I undoubtedly experience a shift in thinking. When the other person answers and starts telling me about his or her life, the world opens up. Suddenly, there is more to life than me; other people are having fun and struggling in different ways than I am.

And strangely, after hanging up after what is usually a most satisfying conversation (if it’s not, I typically call someone else), I’ll start getting those invitations and phone calls I craved. It may not be until the next day, but I take note of the influx of communication that appears to result from a small release on my part.

To many of you, this is probably obvious, but I seem to be a bit of a dunce with social things sometimes. Making phone calls can be difficult. Nowadays, it’s easier and easier, and I love the people around me more and more. But I can still get down and start feeling that everyone gets much more attention than me or that no one ever thinks of me like I think of them. Because of the newfound connectedness in my life (and a few enlightening pearls of wisdom from my mother), I now see that everyone feels that way at times.

So, when I started feeling less loved than everyone else in the world this weekend, I reminded myself that there are probably other people in my life feeling unloved now, too. So I called one. Who knows if she was feeling unloved at the time, but she definitely wanted to talk. And I am incredibly grateful for that. We ended up going out and having a good time. And today, well, let’s just say I’m feeling the love—and also feeling incredibly productive. I have accomplished a lot today!

Turns out, I already had the love I wanted, but it took giving some away to see it. Plus, I gained even more. Hooray for the principle of giving what you want to get.

Happy giving!

Note: This idea apparently applies to almost everything else, too. If you want respect, give it. If you want time, give it. If you want enthusiasm, give it. If you want dedication, loyalty, structure, cleanliness, hugs, or support, give some away. All you need is already yours. Now, we get to the work of truly believing that…