“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.”
-H. Jackson Browne JR.
It is December, the beginning of winter, and a month where most of us become consumed with the holidays of Christmas and Chanukah. These are holidays in which the custom is to give gifts to those who mean something to us in a symbol of love and of giving. In order for us to give fully, it is important for us to “see” clearly the other person and persons to whom we are giving. If it is truly a gift, then it is about the person to whom we are giving. When we live in a selfish manner by seeing others through the lens of our own personal, separate awareness, is it really about the other person? How do we know if something or some action or words are about us or not?
Most of the time we go about our lives disconnected from who we are and from others. We are aware of ourselves and our feelings and everything is about us. We may not think of ourselves as being like that, and the truth is, often we all are like that. Sometimes selfishness is great and helpful. We need to be able to nurture us. When everything stops at that place of self, then we stop the beautiful balance of giving and taking in this world.
A gift is in the eyes of the beholder. Most of us would love to be able to see us and others clearly. We are separate from others, and yet, in a true sense, also connected to others.
Earlier this year, I was at a party for Father’s Day. We were all sitting around eating and having a good time. We began to wish the fathers a happy day in appreciation for them. One young man at the table with his father didn’t buy his father anything or make a card, or even wish him a happy father’s day. If he didn’t appreciate his father and was distant and angry with his dad, that would be one thing. This wasn’t the case. He loves his father. He said his gift to his father was him! His gift was just being with his dad. He himself is the wonderful gift. It was all about him. He truly believes he is the be all and end all for his father. He is very selfish, and not in the nurturing sense. Yes, he is young, but he is eleven years old and old enough to have grown past the young years of “everything is about me”. Those young years are important because when we are babies and very young, things do have to be about us because we need it for our survival. As we get older, hopefully, we begin to grow and see us as separate from our parents and not just take, but give back some. A day set aside for appreciation is a good example of a time to be able to give back. If everything is about us, and we don’t want to grow up, there is no separation and we can’t truly give. And we can’t see anyone else or have something be about anyone else.
On the other hand, as we also grow up, we begin to see that most everything anyone says or does is about them and not about us. We are seen by others through their own lenses. That is why when we ask everyone at a table to tell us what happened, the stories differ. We all have our own perspectives. Can we live in a way in which we also can be connected to us, to see others as separate individuals with separate needs, and to give to others from a sense of who they are?
This father would love to be seen for who he is. We all would love to be seen for who we are. This father would love to be appreciated. If we give too much to our children as they become older, and give them the sense of too much power over us and a sense of entitlement, that is not about us or about the other either. If this father did this, his actions were about his own self and not about his sons. So he too didn’t see his son clearly and as separate from him. In this case, most probably, neither person saw each other for who they are. And in fact, we all do this to varying degrees. It would be a great goal for us to see others for who they are, see us for who we are, and to give and receive in a balanced way. It is possible to do this as best we can if we step away from our own internal lens and know that everything is not about us. By doing so, we give us the way to live with clarity and vitality and wholeness.
Small Lifestyle Changes that Promote Big Results:
A simple exercise you can do is this: think about a time recently when you were acting selfish and seeing something only through your eyes. Now, go through the same scenario, and see the experience through the eyes of someone else there. If there were more people, see the experience through everyone’s eyes there. When you have done this, write down your experience and also if you now think of what happened slightly differently than before.