Many of us have grown up believing that it is our solemn duty to give, give, and keep on giving to others, that is only a half-truth—a myth that prevents us from living joyfully and giving fully. Instead, consider what the world’s great sages say: You have a duty to give to others and to give to yourself. When you are in need, you must also receive. This advice sounds obvious, but how many of us are even near the top of our own copious to-do lists?

While we are called to give, and to give joyfully, life also beckons us to master the art of balance. We have a duty not just to give to others, but to give to ourselves—and to see ourselves as worthy of receiving. We have a duty to honor others and to honor ourselves. What makes it so hard? We’ve inherited deep-seated myths about giving that keep us tied up in a lopsided approach to living. It’s like trying to walk a tightrope in a straitjacket; we’re not free to move a little this way or that to regain our balance. There is a way out of the dilemma, a way beyond the myths to the magic of honoring ourselves. It begins where all wisdom starts—through the door of paradox.

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