Speaking of Joy: Giving Can Make You Rich

This is day 15 in our “25 Days to See Joy” in our holiday season.  I hope the writings of Helen Keller are motivating you to look for those happy moments every day – and I hope you’ll share them with me on Facebook, too.

Have you ever heard of the German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer?  He was not an ordinary man nor did he lead an “ordinary life” which is why his quote so resonates with me.

He says:

“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”

Bonhoeffer wrote that sentiment in a letter to his parents from prison on September 13, 1943.  A Lutheran pastor and anti-Nazi dissident, Bonhoeffer was hanged by the Nazi’s nineteen months later on April 9, 1945 – mere days before Allied Forces began liberating the concentration camps. 

His note was specifically in gratitude for the care he was receiving from family and friends for the books and letters they were sending him while in prison. 

Even in the face of likely death, Bonhoeffer expressed gratitude for that and a multitude of other things in his writings from prison.

I think I know what the ledger of my life would look like if I created 2 columns and noted on the left side “received” and on the right side “gave.”

Speaking of Joy:  Linda Sterling Sease

The “received” side would look like I-90, the longest freeway in the U.S. running from Boston to Seattle.   I have received so much. 

The “gave” side?  I don’t know - maybe the length of my driveway?  I’m not a selfish person but I do not think my giving has kept up with my receiving.

The lopsidedness of our fortunate life becomes so evident with that exercise. 

But what if we flipped Bonhoeffer’s observation?

What if maybe, just maybe, we also rarely receive what we actually deserve?

Now that’s something to ponder.  And likely even more reason to be grateful for a life of riches.  

Until next week, I hope your life is full of joy and gratitude,


Linda Sterling Sease is a professional speaker, career coach & writer on the power of joy to transform companies, homes and communities.  To explore how Linda can work with your organization, call 303-319-5829 or email her at Linda at SterlingSease.com.