“If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.”
~Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama.

The Two-Way Street of Giving theory is a simple way to conceptualize the difference between giving for the “right” reasons and giving for the “wrong” reasons.

While there certainly is not one “right” or “wrong” way to give, for the multitude of ways in which one can give is quite limitless and as its value surely varies from person to person, giving can indeed embody two distinct forms: either benefiting the recipient, exclusively; or mutually benefiting both the recipient and the giver.

When giving benefits both the recipient of the giving and the giver, too, we may refer to the giving as a “Two-Way Street,” upon which some form of “value” is transferred and shared between both parties. The Two-Way Street of Giving is what we hope to experience when we give for the right reasons.

Giving Because We’re Told to Give

The notion of charity and selfless offerings are implanted in us as children; we’re repetitiously told of the merit of giving and its importance, whether instructed by our parents, an educational program like Sesame Street, our grade school, or the likes of a religious institution.

When we gave as children, it was most often because we were simply instructed to do so. Of course, the motivation with children is to instill an important understanding of the virtue of selflessness and charity. But in many ways, it’s not until we’re older that giving becomes less of a one-way road — benefiting only the recipient — and more of a two-way street — benefiting both the recipient and the giver alike.

The Two-Way Street of Giving theory

Consider the flow of traffic on a one-way road: the direction is limited and singular. Traffic flows from one point to another. When someone gives for the “wrong” reasons — whether it is instructed, forced, expected, or simply “giving for the sake of giving” — it is only the recipient who benefits from the act of charity. Giving for the sake of giving is a one-way road; the giver gains nothing because his or her motivations were not based in Love.

Conversely, when giving for the “right” reasons — when acts of charity and selflessness originate from Love — the giving not only positively impacts the life of the recipient, but also that the giver. When motivated by Love, what was once a one-way road suddenly becomes a mutually positive, symbiotic relationship; a two-way street upon which both parties are equal beneficiaries.

With the Two-Way Street of Giving theory, the giver is benefited by nurturing one’s own sense of humility, selflessness, and altruism. Giving for the right reasons cultivates the giver’s spirit, soul, and sense of Love in life. After all, and as Tenzin Gyatso said, if you truly wish to experience the sometimes elusive concept of “peace,” you must first give it to another.

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