Your Gift to the World

If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.

You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.

Creative work is not a selfish act of a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.

Steven Pressfield, The Art of War

 

those pathetic people

Most of us, driven by our own aching needs and voids, address life and other people in the stance of seekers. We become what CS Lewis, in his book, The Four Loves, calls “..those pathetic people who simply want friends and can never make any. The very condition of having friends is that we should want something else besides friends.”

Most of us know our need to be loved and try to seek the love that we need from others. But the paradox remains uncompromised; if we seek the love which we need, we will never find it. We are lost.

Love can effect the solution of our problems but we must face the fact that to be loved, we must become loveable. When a person orients his life towards the satisfaction of his own needs, when he goes out of seek the love which he needs, no matter how we try to soften our judgments of him, he is self-centered. He is not lovable, even if he does deserve our compassion, He is concentrating on himself, and as long as he continues to concentrate on himself, his ability to love will always remain stunted and he will himself remain a perennial infant.

If, however, a person seeks not to receive love, but rather to give it, he will become lovable and he will most certainly be loved in the end. This is the immutable law under which we live: concern for ourselves and convergence upon self can only isolate self and induce an even deeper and more torturous loneliness. It is a vicious and terrible cycle that closes in on us when loneliness, seeking to be relieved through the love of others, only increases. The only way we can break this cycle formed by our lusting egos is to stop being concerned with ourselves and to being to be concerned with others.

John Powell, Why Am I Afraid to Love?

Betting on Those We Love

The year is 1995. Jeff Bezos launches an online bookstore out of his garage in his Bellevue, Washington. His parents sink a substantial portion of their life savings into the effort. "We weren't betting on the Internet," his mother would later say. "We were betting on Jeff." By the end of the decade, Jeff's parents are billionaires, thanks to the success of Amazon.

It doesn't always work out this way, but is betting on those we love ever a misplaced wager? There are many ways besides money that we can show them through our action we are on their side and are rooting for them.

You Control Love

Before we decide to give our love to a person, we should answer this: Can I be happy with this: Can I be happy with this person if he never changes? Too often we love an imaginary figure rather than the real thing. After we are married, we will get him to slim down. We know we can talk her into wearing contacts once we have settled down. We can live in the Midwest for a couple of years, but then I’ll talk him into moving to the coast.

But what if he doesn’t change? Can you live with that temper? Are you content to live a sedentary life? What if he doesn’t change his mind about children?

Give your love to the person he is now, not to the prince you hope he will become. We all know examples of people who have changed drastically after marriage. However, don’t count on it. It is possible the change may be the opposite of what you hoped.

William Coleman, Engaged

setting boundaries

Many people feel that they are “people persons,” able to attract others and connect with them. At the same time, however, people persons often feel overwhelmed, anxious and frustrated about the obligations and responsibilities that their bonded relationships demand.

Setting boundaries is the primary tool for strengthening your separateness and developing an accurate sense of responsibility. The essence of boundaries is determining where you end and someone else begins, realizing your own person apart from others, and knowing your limits.

A good way to understand this is to compare our lives to a house. Houses have certain maintenance needs, such as painting, terminate control and roof repairs. If, however, we’re spending all our time putting roofs on our neighbor’s houses while neglecting our own roof or we run the risk of a leaky roof or worse by the time we get back home.

Think of all the different caring acts you performed over the last 24 hours. How many did you do grudgingly because you were under the threat of someone’s criticism or abandonment? How many did you do under compulsion because you feel guilty if you don’t keep people happy? And how many were from a cheerful heart, from the overflow caused by knowing you are loved by God and people in your life?

John Townsend

Love is... judicious

Love is not simply giving; it is judicious giving and judicious withholding as well. It is judicious praising and judicious criticizing. It is judicious arguing, struggling, confronting, urging, pushing and pulling in addition to comforting. It is leadership. The word “judicious” means requiring judgment, and judgment requires more than instinct; it requires thoughtful and often painful decision-making.

M Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

givers and takers

"Happy people get a lot of joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others," explained Kathleen Vohs, one of the authors of a study to be published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, in a recent presentation at the University of Pennsylvania.

In other words, meaning transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants. People who have high meaning in their lives are more likely to help others in need. "If anything, pure happiness is linked to not helping others in need," the researchers write. What sets human beings apart from animals is not the pursuit of happiness, which occurs all across the natural world, but the pursuit of meaning, which is unique to humans, according to Roy Baumeister, the lead researcher of the study and author, with John Tierney, of the recent book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. Baumeister, a social psychologists at Florida State University, was named an ISI highly cited scientific researcher in 2003.

The study participants reported deriving meaning from giving a part of themselves away to others and making a sacrifice on behalf of the overall group. In the words of Martin E. P. Seligman, one of the leading psychological scientists alive today, in the meaningful life "you use your highest strengths and talents to belong to and serve something you believe is larger than the self."

For instance, having more meaning in one's life was associated with activities like buying presents for others, taking care of kids, and arguing. People whose lives have high levels of meaning often actively seek meaning out even when they know it will come at the expense of happiness. Because they have invested themselves in something bigger than themselves, they also worry more and have higher levels of stress and anxiety in their lives than happy people. Having children, for example, is associated with the meaningful life and requires self-sacrifice, but it has been famously associated with low happiness among parents, including the ones in this study.


Emily Esfahani Smith writing in The Atlantic

Givers and Takers

"Happy people get a lot of joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others," explained Kathleen Vohs, one of the authors of a study to be published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, in a recent presentation at the University of Pennsylvania.

In other words, meaning transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants. People who have high meaning in their lives are more likely to help others in need. "If anything, pure happiness is linked to not helping others in need," the researchers write. What sets human beings apart from animals is not the pursuit of happiness, which occurs all across the natural world, but the pursuit of meaning, which is unique to humans, according to Roy Baumeister, the lead researcher of the study and author, with John Tierney, of the recent book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. Baumeister, a social psychologists at Florida State University, was named an ISI highly cited scientific researcher in 2003.

The study participants reported deriving meaning from giving a part of themselves away to others and making a sacrifice on behalf of the overall group. In the words of Martin E. P. Seligman, one of the leading psychological scientists alive today, in the meaningful life "you use your highest strengths and talents to belong to and serve something you believe is larger than the self."

For instance, having more meaning in one's life was associated with activities like buying presents for others, taking care of kids, and arguing. People whose lives have high levels of meaning often actively seek meaning out even when they know it will come at the expense of happiness. Because they have invested themselves in something bigger than themselves, they also worry more and have higher levels of stress and anxiety in their lives than happy people. Having children, for example, is associated with the meaningful life and requires self-sacrifice, but it has been famously associated with low happiness among parents, including the ones in this study.

Emily Esfahani Smith, writing in The Atlantic

Putting yourself out of business

The proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs our gift. We feed children in order that they soon be able to feed themselves; we teach them in order that they may soon not need our teaching. The hour when we can say “They need me no longer” should be our reward.

My own profession – that of a university teacher – is in this way dangerous. If we are any good we must always be working towards the moment at which our pupils are fit to become our critics and rivals. We should be delighted when it arrives, as the fencing master is delighted when his pupil can pink and disarm him. Any many are. But not all.

CS Lewis
The Four Loves