Being Family

A long time ago, I asked a wise friend about how religion perceives love. She told me that while the emotion has merit, it can fall short. Looking back, I realize that, at the time, I had not really understood what she meant. Now, I remember this comment and realize its validity.

To demonstrate it with action, the intensity and effectiveness of love is guided by a personal sense of ethics and conduct. The feeling may be perceived as very powerful but it cannot ensure that one will always be able to uphold it with faith, loyalty, and patience, without selfishness. These come from a system of values, derived from religion, culture, norms, upbringing, or other experiences.

Recently, I listened to a talk that resonated the same idea. When we are with our friends, we can feel like great, generous, understanding people. It is easier to do that with people that have gained importance in our lives because they make us feel good and have ideas that match with our own. In a different scenario, it is not an option to get on the bad side of the co-workers we depend on to get our work done or expect help from in our career progress. These factors can just give us more patience.

The truest test of character is how we behave with the people who have always been in our lives, that we love, and should not expect any obvious material benefits from. These people can often be taken for granted and even mistreated when they are helping us. No matter what their relationship to us is, they do not come with the obligation to help us and we should appreciate everything we do. In fact, these people deserve more appreciation if they support us always, stand the test of time, and demonstrate an ability to care for us without acting for their own benefit.

One of my personal goals is to nurture the relationships I have in my family. To a great extent, over the past few years, I have done this without expecting anything in return. But it has indeed given me a lot in return: better family memories, more appreciation, understanding support, and reciprocation of my attentiveness. I want to continue to work on this because it makes me happy to just invest my time into this very valuable part of my life. I feel like I am working on something important.

So, how exactly do I plan on working on this? Here are a few ideas for improvement that I am targeting:

  • Prevent my impatience and frustration from affecting my communication when someone is trying to help me with my problems.
  • Invest time in the little things that show I care and tune into what others need and what brings them happiness. It can be as simple as offering a cup of tea or joining someone to watch their favourite show.
  • Being a better listener by applying emotional intelligence to understand the other person’s feelings.
  • When I am with someone, my focus should be on them. If I am collaborating with a person, my attention should be on doing my part and communicating productively. Limit distractions coming from my phone or worries of other matters.



4 thoughts on “Being Family

  1. Interesting post Lisa. I’d like to offer a disagreement. You wrote, “The truest test of character is how we behave with the people who have always been in our lives, that we love, and should not expect any obvious material benefits from. ”

    It’s easy to be with people we know, people who are familiar to us, and especially people with whom we share similar values, typically people in family/friends.

    I suggest that the truest test of character is how we behave with people with whom we share few values, people who hold different, conflicting beliefs. Can we still be kind, respectful, and engaged in their views even as we disagree?

    Interested in your viewpoint.


    1. My thought indeed was, like you say, that it should be easiest to be good to family/friends, people we love and understand and hence empathize most with perhaps. But even then, there are so many cases of abuse or hostility within these relationships.
      But when I read the news or see how people behave in shops/restaurants, I feel that many people are failing the character test you speak of – with flying colours! It is very sad to watch because that makes our reputation as a society and that is what the younger generation learns from too. We should definitely be kind, respectful and engaged; that is the best way to expand our horizons, make new connections, and add value to the world.

      Liked by 1 person

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