I had a conversation with someone who had been in the Peace Corps in South America. He shared many lessons that he learned and memories that he brought home with him from the experience.
The nugget that struck him the most: “Peace Corps taught me how to be generous. Americans are not generous; they do not know how to take gifts.”
It seemed like an unusual juxtaposition that not knowing how to take gifts translated to not being generous, but he explained that the concepts of generosity and gratitude are closely linked. For you to be able to acknowledge generosity in others, you have to be able to express gratitude for it.
Think about the gifts you have given. For them to truly be received, whether it is giving of a compliment or of a material possession, the receiver needs to experience gratitude for you to feel generous. From people who have next to nothing, but give it to you, the generosity is sometimes overwhelming. His point was that Americans tend to say “oh no, you shouldn’t have” instead of “deepest thanks; I am honored.”
The next time someone is generous toward you — with possessions, time, praise, etc. — work hard to express gratitude so that the generosity can warm their heart as well as yours.