Is this an either or question? Think of Life as a balance scale with yourself on one side and others on the other side. Too much on one side or the other and the scale won’t balance. It also can make you grouchy and resentful and possibly greedy. How about the person for whom nothing is ever right and who is difficult to please. Too much candy and then none of it tastes good. You work hard so you can enjoy life and then you never have any time to do what you enjoy. Rush through things and then you don’t have time to enjoy them. Best get-a ways I ever had were when we forgot about time and enjoyed the setting, the company, the conversation, and sharing the experience.
Savoring is enjoying what you do have. Whether it is clean sheets, fresh corn on the cob, a clean car, or unexpected, but welcome, company. Savoring involves being able to accept a change of pace when one offers it self. Remember when you were in schoo9l and had a snow day? It represented a free day to go out and play in the snow. Did you ever really miss having school on a snow day? Have you ever read a book while caught in a traffic jam after an accident on the interstate? I did and it was one I had already read so I reread it. Did I waste my time grouching and complaining about the jam or the fact that the only book I had I had already read. Time went faster as I lost myself in the story I had read before.
“Enjoy yourself. It is later than you think,” was a title of a song. Did the writer know what he or she was writing about? On the other hand are you too busy enjoying yourself that you have no time left for anybody else? Grandma or grandpa are you too busy to babysit your grandchildren because you always have a golf tournament, a card game, or a committee meeting. You may even rationalize this away by telling yourself that the grand children will be more fun and less work when they get older and then you never find the time then either.
Are you there for every meeting your social or church group has and have held every office over the years and some for several years in a row. Do people say that they don’t know what they would do without you? Are you tied up babysitting for family and the family always knows who they can get at the last minute. You! You tell friends that you would like to do something with them and then are unable to follow through with your plans with them because of family obligations. You have planned a trip somewhere on a special day and have made all the reservations and paid fees that are not refundable but don’t go because you have to do something for someone else and that is more important than what you wanted to do.
Is “wallflower” your middle name? Do you let everybody else take all the credit, get all the prizes, and celebrate all the milestones? Would you be surprised if nobody showed up for your own funeral and/or that your relatives didn’t even have a memorial service for you. In fact, while you are alive you even encourage them to do this when you die.
There needs to be a nice balance here. You are just as important as others are and others are just as important as you are. Giving and receiving are both part of the equation. Knowing what might really please you now may be the inspiration for something you can do for somebody else later. Parents of young children often know this as do members of families with a chronically ill loved one or a recent unexpected death in the family.
Giving is important. Gratitude is important. Giving as a form of gratitude is one of the most sincere forms of thanks. You give me some of what you have and I give somebody else some of what I have. It is the daisy chain of gratitude. I may not be able to pay you for the tank of gas I needed to get to the doctor, but may be I can mow the neighbor’s yard. Remember the old story about someone who gets out on the wrong side of bed and kicks the cat who scratches the dog who bites the mailman, etc. Start your day off right and who knows who the favor might effect?
Ever skip a meal to get something done (maybe even for someone else) and then wind up so hungry you bite someone’s head off? Was that a really good idea to begin with? Being self-sacrificing can lead to “gunny sacking” in which you expect the recipients to pay you back without you asking them to do it or to stop asking you to do things for them or to say, “No,” once in awhile when you offer to do something.