It was the end of a long, hard workout, and I was exhausted. Everyone in the class had finished the routine and I was the last person struggling through a final set of burpees. In case you’re unfamiliar with a burpee, it’s a strenuous exercise that requires you to jump back into a plank, do a push-up, jump into a standing position, and clap overhead. It’s one of my least favorite exercises even with the modification I make to step back rather than jump.
As I pushed through, critical voices started squawking in my head: You’re always the last person to be done. Everyone’s in better shape than you. You’re too old to be doing this.
I attempted to stifle this noisy inner crew when a young man approached.
“How many do you have left?” he asked.
Eight, I replied, gasping for air, ready to cave.
“Okay, we got this,” he said as he jumped back and started doing burpees next to me.
Surprised by his unexpected support, I slowly regained energy and laughed my way through the remaining set, grateful for this man’s kindness. In all the years I’ve been going to gyms, I’ve never had anyone do something like that.
It was wonderful (and a little uncomfortable), to be on the receiving end of encouragement and his kindness was not only just what I needed to finish the routine, it helped me to strengthen another muscle – the one used to receive. I don’t know about you, but I can be overly self-reliant – even anti-dependent – and if you’ve ever struggled with an elderly parent who rejects support, you know how frustrating that stance is especially later in life. At some point, we all need help and better to strengthen that muscle early on.
The experience at the gym was the inspiration I needed to proactively look for more ways to increase my capacity to receive. Putting my suitcase in the overhead bin for me? Sure. Letting a friend clean up after dinner? Yup. Accepting lunch from a co-worker? Thank you very much.
When you learn to say yes to help, you quickly realize that you’re not the only one who benefits. Receiving is an act of generosity that brings us closer to each other. And it leaves everyone feeling happy and grateful.
P.S. – If you’re ready to explore what it means to age consciously and joyfully, join me at Omega Institute for our Self Care for the Wisdom Years retreat the weekend of October 6th-8th. You can get more info and register here.