Learning the secret to wings: understand the art of receiving

Every Christmas Eve since I was a teenager, I’ve snuggled up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa and a bowl of popcorn to watch my favorite movie of all time – “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Most people know this classic Frank Capra film in which the main character, George Bailey, gets to experience what his hometown of Bedford Falls would be like if he’d never been born. The son of a small-town banker, George has repeatedly given up his own dreams to help others achieve theirs. While his friends go to college, pursue careers in Hollywood, travel the world, buy their first homes, or become World War II heroes, George holds down the fort at Bedford Building & Loan.

When a string of bad luck and honest mistakes leads George, on a cold, snowy Christmas Eve, to feel like he’s worth more dead than alive, his guardian angel, Clarence, intervenes just in time. George gets to see how his many acts of kindness have significantly impacted others. The movie ends in a love fest, where George asks Clarence to take him home, where his friends come streaming in to bail him out – the most famous crowdfunding campaign of all time. When George, the ultimate giver, finally gave in and accepted help from his friends, he got a new lease on life and was able to give Clarence the biggest gift of all: his long-awaited and hard-earned wings.

I thought a lot about George Bailey when I was participating in Gorge Happiness Month. As I completed daily acts of kindness, gratitudes and moments of silence, I also learned a lot about the art of receiving. The old proverb tells us it’s better to give than receive. Yet accepting nice gestures, gifts and help is also extremely important for our health. Receiving allows us to stop worrying, lifts our spirit and gives us energy to give some more.

It was interesting to see how people reacted to my daily acts of kindness during Gorge Happiness Month. Most accepted help, cards, and cookies with open arms while others instantly felt obligated to return the favor (and they did). A couple of people refused help altogether. As the giver, that didn’t feel so great.

So when someone offers to babysit your child, walk your dog, shovel your sidewalk or buy you a cup of coffee, say yes. When someone compliments you on your work, your garden, or your shirt, say thanks. When someone tries to open the door for you, take a bag out of your overflowing arms, or shake your hand, let them. Accepting help and expressing gratitude is a gift in and of itself.

Becky Brun of Hood River wrote this as part of the second annual Gorge Happiness Month.

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