Is It as Blessed to Receive as To Give?

We often hear Jesus’ words quoted, “It’s more blessed to give than receive.”

In our materialistic world, that’s a good thing to be reminded of.

But consider this: Might it be just as blessed to receive?

Imagine offering a gift to someone. You genuinely want to give that person this gift.

But she refuses. “No, thank you,” she says, even though in her eyes you sense she would really like to say yes.

How do you feel?

Now, imagine offering your gift to someone who receives it with delight and gratitude.

Don’t you feel blessed in the second case?

If we refuse a gift someone offers us, we rob them of the joy of giving. We break the cycle: gift offered, gift received, receiver blessed, giver blessed from receiver’s gratitude.

We have just come from the special day of Thanksgiving. In some ways, isn’t Thanksgiving about receiving? To acknowledge God’s blessings is to receive them fully. Our gratitude is our act of receiving that blesses God, even as He has blessed us.

In this season on giving, let us not only give with joy, but receive with joy as well. Let us remember to complete the beautiful giving cycle … whichever end we’re on.

Why Thanksgiving is the Healthiest Holiday

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. What could be better than a whole day devoted to food, friendship, and gratitude?

In fact, Thanksgiving is actually the healthiest holiday we have.  And I’m not just talking about the turkey and the side dishes.

Thanksgiving is the healthiest holiday because the benefits of gratitude are measurable.

In a WebMD feature, Elizabeth Heubeck summarized some of the health benefits of giving thanks. University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons conducted a study on gratitude, finding that grateful people–those who perceive gratitude as a permanent trait rather than a temporary state of mind–have an edge on the not-so-grateful when it comes to health. “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations,” Emmons told WebMD.

Gratitude acts as a stress buster. An inability to deal with stress is attributed to up to 90 percent of all doctor visits, and is linked to several leading causes of death, including heart disease and cancer. “Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have a tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress,” Emmons says.

I know this to be true in my own life. I keep what I call my “gifts journal,” noting the things that felt like gifts on a given day. As I thank God for these gifts, my focus changes from any problems I may have to the love that inspired such gifts of grace. I can tell you, this one simple action has totally transformed my life. Not only did it cure me of a postpartum depression years ago, but it has continued to relieve stress and be the source of much joy and strength.

Gratitude acts as an immune booster. When you’re grateful, you also tend to be optimistic. According to Lisa Aspinwall, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, “There are some very interesting studies linking optimism to better immune function.” In one, researchers compared the immune systems of healthy, first-year law students under stress. They round that, by midterm, the students characterized as optimistic (based on survey responses) maintained a higher number of white blood cells (which protect the immune system), compared with their more pessimistic classmates.

Optimism also has a positive health impact on people whose health is already compromised. In separate studies, patients with AIDS, as well as those preparing to undergo surgery, had better health outcomes when they maintained attitudes of optimism.

So as you partake of the wonderfully healthy foods of Thanksgiving, I hope you’ll also take time to feed your soul and strengthen your body by recounting all the things you’re grateful for.

And don’t stop at Thanksgiving Day, either! (I have s sample journal you can use to keep track of your “abundant gifts” throughout the year. )

For more health benefits of gratitude, visit my Healing Heart Issues blog for an article on the latest research:

The Gift of Creative Vision

by Diane Eble

“Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul; the blue prints of your ultimate achievements.” — Napoleon Hill

I’m holding in my hands a copy of a book.

The title is MotherStyles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths.

The authors are listed as “Janet P. Penley with Diane Eble.”

It is my tenth book (eleventh, if you count the compilation called The Happy BirthdayBook , as amazon does). It is Janet’s first.

As I page through this book, so familiar yet new now that I hold the designed, actual book in my hands, I think about vision. About the power of a dream, of even passing desires. Somehow, they all have power. Energy to create reality.

I think about what a gift it is to create. We co-create our lives, in tandem with God. And as we create other things as well–a book, a meal, a dress, a wreath, a new marketing plan, a baby–we express our essential nature: “made in the image of God,” the original Creator.

We can create alone, but more often, we create with other people. In this case, MotherStyles was born of two women’s vision, and one woman’s major life work.

Although Janet Penley began her work with mothers in 1988, the book MotherStyles was conceived, you might say, in 1993, when I heard Janet speak at a mothering group, then called F.E.M.A.L.E. (Formerly Employed Mothers At the Leading Edge), now called Mothers & More.

Janet spoke about 16 different mothering styles, based on personality theory developed by Carl Jung and popularized by Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI). I had just gotten certified for giving the MBTI myself, and was writing a book at the time that also talked about personality type.

I stood in line to meet Janet after her talk was over. Told her how excellent her presentation was, how I’d just become certified to give the MBTI myself, how all this personality type stuff had been like a huge light bulb of self-understanding for me. I also bought her self-published M.O.M.S. Handbook.

In the days that followed, I devoured Janet’s Handbook. I called her, asked if I could interview her for my book, A Life You Can Love. Thus began our friendship as she graciously offered her insights for my book.

I told her she should consider writing a “regular book” about Mothers of Many Styles. The Handbook was fine, as far as it went, but I knew there was a great book here. Something nobody had done before, something millions of mothers needed. I knew how much personality type theory had helped me. I knew how to get published. I’d help her write the thing even, if she wanted. I just wanted to see her material “out there,” enlightening other mothers on a grander scale.

Well, she wasn’t ready. We kept in touch, off and on. I sent her books I’d written as they came out. She was especially supportive of Abundant Gifts. Every so often, I’d ask if she had any more thoughts of writing the Mothers of Many Styles book. She always had very good reasons for “not yet.”

Then, in November 2003, she called me and said, “I think I’m ready to write the book. Can we talk about it?”

And so we met and dreamed over lobster bisque and salad about what this book might be, and what my role might be.

We solidified an agreement a few months later, and spent the rest of 2004 trying to get a handle on the book. Did a lot of market research, a lot of talking. Too much talking, perhaps. It seemed like we were going around in circles, and sometimes frustration surfaced.

Yet I’ve come to trust the creative process. Sometimes dreams take a while to gather enough energy to manifest into a tangible product. Even though it felt like we were going nowhere, what was really happening was, the vision was gathering both shape and momentum. This was a necessary step in the creative process, called “assimilation.” The book was incubating, growing unseen and hidden from our consciousness, within both of us.

Finally, by December 2004, we both felt the impatience of The Next Creative Step. Incubation was over, it was time for action! Reality cooperated. We found an agent. We pulled together a proposal, outline, sample chapters. Within three months, the book had a publisher.

(Interesting side note: Years ago, I registered a conscious desire to be published someday by Addison-Wesley. That publisher no longer exists … it was bought out by The Perseus Group, of which Da Capo Lifelong Books is a division … and Da Capo “happens” to be the publisher of MotherStyles.)

With a contract in hand, we continued writing the book. The Action phase, from when we started the proposal until when we finished the manuscript, took nine months, January through September of 2005.

(Another interesting side note: All my books have taken me nine months to actually write. No matter what else was or was not going on in my life, no matter how long the book—it always seems to take me nine months.)

So now, here it is, finally. MotherStyles, complete and finished, going out into the world 13 years after the spark of “conception,” that first connection Janet and I made. Conceived, birthed and launched in its own time, not according to the timetable of the “parents” but according to a deeper sense of timing.

I decide on a quiet celebration: I make myself a cup of peppermint cocoa. I stir flavored chocolate shavings into steaming milk, then pour it into a mug with “Texas” on it in quiet acknowledgment of Janet, who now lives in Texas. I savor the sweetness of the drink, the moment.

Like a child, each book is unique, special, loved for its own sake. Each is launched into the world with high hopes of fulfilling its purpose, a purpose that somehow seems divine.

I hope this book will outlive us both, but one never knows.

So now, a blessing:

Go, MotherStyles, go and fulfill your destiny. Be an inspiration, a gift, to many, many mothers. As it blessed Janet and me to write you, go and bless others with these truths. Set them free to mother with their best selves, in enlightened energy.

And you, dear reader, if you have a creative project you dream of bringing to life, take heart. Feed your dream, don’t let it starve. Patiently let it gather energy in its own time. Pay attention to the sparks, trust the process. Someday you’ll hold in your hands the tangible form of your original vision, and marvel at the miracle of the creative process. And as Janet says when she looks at the published book hot off the presses, “In a strange way, it feels like it’s always been there sitting on my desk; as familiar to me as my child’s face.”

MotherStyles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths book cover