Are you happier when you give or receive?

By Ralph Calabria

If you compare these two actions – give and receive- is there one which makes you happier in your life? How you answer this question reveals a lot about your interests and priorities in life. It shows your priorities in love, the sweetest mystery of all time and which action makes you happier.

Jesus is often called the Incarnation of love. Yogananda is referred to as the Avatar of love. All mystics say that love is the sweetest mystery of life and the fundamental reason for the Creator creating everything and all sentient beings.

The most common social activity between two people consists of giving and receiving. In comparing these two Jesus, said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) But did Jesus actually said, “more blessed?”

Let us look at this Greek word, makarios (μακάριος), which has been translated into English as “blessed.” The word origin of makarios is from makar (happy); a poetical form meaning by extension, happier.

I think therefore, that it should have been translated as “There is more happiness in giving then there is in receiving.” This would have made more sense from the comparison made by Jesus and easier to follow and understand.

Jesus is making a comparison between the actions of giving and receiving. He does not make a judgment that giving is great and receiving is horrible! He just wants us to be happy, so he tells us that giving makes us happier than receiving.

But why does Jesus say giving make us happier? How does he come to this conclusion?


Jesus, like all Kriya yoga Masters, suggest immersing oneself in this loving attitude of giving in order to be happier- to expand, to grow in love and have life more abundantly. Giving gradually decreases the obscuring shadow from our ego, (our false self) which lives to get and forget. This ego-veil blocks out the wisdom and love of our soul.


This is why Jesus, Yogananda, and Enlightened ones work so hard to encourage us – to help us recognize our true god image, our true soul identity, and our true connection with humanity.


Here is what Jesus said about you! “Is it not written in your law, I have said you are gods” (John 10:34). Read it and receive it!


So, ask yourself, “Am I happier when I receive love or when I give love?” Love gives and forgives. Love establishes the greatest sharing between humans. Love installs the eternal ecstasy of communion between God and the human soul, which leads you into eternal happiness – “That love will never be taken away from your heart.”


A true lover will say, “Your love is worth more than money,” because true love is eternal and a blessing. This does not mean that money has no value, but its value is limited because love is eternal, more satisfying, it completes us; it is our heart and soul’s most precious treasure.

Thomas Jefferson, wrote, “I believe … that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.” He also wrote in the Declaration of Independence that one of the rights of all men is “the pursuit of Happiness.” In other words, all people want to be able to receive happiness.


And yet, I do not understand why so many people allow negative, destructive psychological quirks to drive them to believe that Jesus does not want us to be happy? It might be because people subconsciously believe that they do not deserve to receive happiness. It is ironic, but how many times have you heard someone say immediately after they receive a happy surprise, “I don’t believe it?”  Why not?

Here are some of many sayings Jesus tells us about receiving, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22). Jesus also said, “For every one that asketh, receiveth;” (Matt 7:8).

In your life, what have you found to be the case? Especially in terms of love, does receiving love make you happier, or does giving love make you happier? Reflect upon what Jesus said about these two actions. Both are a part of your life.

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Thank you.

4 thoughts on “Are you happier when you give or receive?

  1. I like your view that both are necessary to happiness. Certainly I’ve experienced superior joy in giving … which admittedly for me, has not been as common practice as it should be. However, one particular memory comes to mind.

    As a young adult i had the privilege of coaching a youth ice hockey team ( mite level, ages 5 to 8) and wanted to do something special for the holidays. At Christmastime, I wanted to give everyone a gift that was the same (equal value) yet also unique. I determined a match box car and pack of hockey cards would be perfect. I worked as a jet engine mechanic in the Air Force at the time and started collecting the boxes our fuel filters came in … they were a perfect size for what i had in mind. So I wrapped all the gifts and brought them to practice, hidden behind the bench. Towards the end of practice, i devised a puck handling drill, where instead of a hockey puck, each child would practice their skills with a box of presents. They were so excited and wrapping paper was flying everywhere on the ice! And of course they couldn’t wait to get off the ice and open them, which they did with lightning speed. This experience of giving and sharing was one, if not the most profound life experiences I’ve had and the joy i felt was and still is in memory, immeasurable.

    As a spiritual practitioner and disciple of Yogiraj Gurunath Siddhanath, the greatest gift is to receive. Being in the transformative presence of an enlightened living master, their is no other way. A senior disciple told me the most humble and respectful thing you can do before a true master is to drop your mind, the ego, completely. This is what i endeavor and practice for in meditation and devotion. To have the innocence of heart and mind of a five year old child when approaching God, and to allow the spirit of God to fulfill me absolutely.

    I too wonder why so many, myself often included have allowed or allow psychological quirks (which, in my view is a very accurate description of what they actually are) of negativity to present themselves. Now, that is the wrong kind of “present” to give or receive! I see this everywhere in society, especially at people’s workplaces. Its as if its an unspoken code that if someone is happy, they must not be working; because the ignorant make the mis-association of equating working with unhappiness. Perhaps that’s not totally fair, i think far too often people have been “conditioned” to believe that that work isn’t supposed to be fun or enjoyable. Add into that modern societies perceived work ethic that one must always be hard working; the recipe is disaster (must work hard = must be increasingly miserable). Thus, it’s imperative to find balance first within yourself, and then your happiness automatically influences others around you. As Paramahansa Yogananda has said, “Be a Smile Millionaire”. Truly, the gift of giving a smile or receiving a smile is priceless.

  2. Thank you Ronald, for your wonderful life experience you wrote about. You truly show that you understand the two actions as expressed in your life. I agree thoroughly about receiving the love and grace from the guru and God.

  3. Ralph and Ronald,
    Part of the work problem is the Puritan influence . That is the teaching that life is hard, life is unhappy and if you are good enough you will have happiness in the next life. I was never told the truth that the teaching of Jesus was about happiness in this life and the next. It was only about the next!
    p.s. I like to give unexpected surprises , it’s more fun giving, I have what I need.

  4. I also have to wonder about how political and social theory plays into this. In a political-economic system like capitalism, one is expected to “give” much time, energy and labor. The act of “receiving” can be linked with pervasive social ideas about laziness, entitlement, poverty (receiving government assistance, etc.). Culturally, that form of “receiving” is vilified, while giving one’s labor is considered necessary and virtuous.

    This is not a very developed idea in my head, but I figured I’d add it.

    On a personal level, I think I feel equal happiness when giving and receiving, though it certainly depends on the context. Giving freely, out of love, is one of the most marvelous actions. But it’s also quite nice to receive some quality time, or a sincere compliment, from someone who really cares for you. Also, I want to be clear and quiet enough to receive messages and wisdom. If I don’t feel “worthy” or don’t create intentional time to receive… then I miss those intuitive moments.

    Good post:)

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