The old saying insists that It is better to give than to receive.
There are several ways to interpret this. One interpretation is that the act of giving is superior to the act of receiving. I'm kind of dubious of that interpretation, because in an awful lot of situations, receiving just plain rocks. Let's be honest -- if a mysterious black void appeared in the air in front of you, would you rather take a present and throw it into the void, or would you rather a puppy fell out of the void for you? (Assuming you're the kind of person who likes puppies.)
This first interpretation of the phrase suggests that generosity is superior to avarice -- which is true enough -- but if that's all there is to it, then it seems like kind of a weak way to guilt us all into being more generous. I don't like it when people (or aphorisms) try to make me feel guilty, because I've got my own guilt complex to start with and I don't need any help with it, thank you very much. So that's another reason I shy away from this reading of the saying.
A related interpretation is that we should strive to enjoy the act of giving, because if we can teach ourselves to get pleasure from giving, the world will be a better place. I'm a lot more willing to buy this interpretation. But it still carries a rather lecturesome tone. Reading between the lines, one can't help but take it to mean, "You know, you're kind of a selfish twit, and you need to fix yourself. So shape up and do some giving."
But here's the interpretation that I have learned (and keep relearning) to be true.
Giving is simply a better strategy for happiness than receiving.
When you give, you are almost guaranteed to receive some form of gratitude in return. Not in every case, but in most of them. And because the gratitude you receive is unasked-for, it's a bonus.
In contrast, if you depend on receiving for your happiness, you live your life in a constant state of expectation, and every time that expectation goes unmet, you are disappointed.
So if you give, and give without expectation, life is full of bonus happiness for you, whereas if you hunger to receive, it is full of disappointment.
And if you adopt giving as a strategy, and make it a habit, and find your life constantly enriched by the gratitude that naturally flows your way in response, then sooner or later you find that, without even trying, you've learned to enjoy giving for its own sake.
And then you can give into the void and be delighted by it.
Of course, the giving life requires a lot of energy, and can take a lot out of you. And if you run into a string of ingrates who fail to respond well to your generosity, you can begin to doubt the strategy.
Which is why you need to remember to regularly give to yourself.
There's nothing in the saying that says the giving always has to be giving to others.
Just remember, when you give to yourself ...
Say, "Thank you."
Thank you, goddess of love, for generosity, for gratitude, for lessons learned both easily and through hard knocks.