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.