Fortune Friday: “You will receive unexpected support over the next week. Accept it graciously.”

Perhaps one of the hardest lessons we humans will ever learn is how to accept help graciously. Being a grateful recipient often goes contrary to our ego-based drive for independence. No one I know likes to admit they need assistance from others now and again, if not regularly.

Years ago when my children were young, my wife and I found ourselves unemployed during Christmastime. We were broke and living with family. It sucked.

One evening, a neighbor stopped by and handed me a check for $1,000 dollars and instructed me to use it to give my family a happy Christmas and to pay some bills. He left saying, “When we were newly married, someone helped us out. Don’t try to pay us back. Help someone else out instead.”

I was speechless. To this day I still get teary-eyed just thinking about it.

Being the recipient of a gift—be it a present or money or time—stirs up all kinds of emotions. Not the least of which is the stress of reciprocation. The compulsion to repay a giver, to be “even,” is strong. And this stress can be made worse especially when we feel we are not in a position to repay.

But I’d like you to consider the flip side to this scenario:

Being an ungracious recipient robs the giver. It robs them of their opportunity to be generous, helpful, and considerate. Most people love to give. They love to share and help and connect. They like to feel like they are contributing to something important, that they’re making a difference.

When we rebuff their offering, we cheat them in a way. We cheat them out of their portion of the exchange. In our attempt to avoid what we perceive to be a lopsided transaction, we inadvertently create an imbalance.

The next time someone offers you support, considering seeing the situation from their perspective.

Honor their intentions—and their humanity—and accept their help graciously.

To your good fortune!

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