“Spread love everywhere you go; let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
With the spirit of Christmas we think about Jesus’ amazing love and compassion for people. What does it mean to love people? The expression, “love others,” is widely used, but what does it really mean?
To love others is my current spiritual challenge. I feel that my self-improvement thus far has been mostly focused on myself. Yes, I helped myself to a great extent. I changed from a restless, fearful, greedy person and an impatient mother, to a more balanced and wiser person. But even so, I started realizing that I have not developed enough qualities for loving people. I feel that in focusing on myself , and not on loving others or making them happy, even the improved version of my life has ultimately been selfish. When I look at myself I see a lonely introvert who doesn’t know her neighbors, who doesn’t have close friends, who doesn’t always treat people right.
I decided that I don’t want to live my life only for myself: I want to be more sociable, to help others and to somehow contribute to their happiness. However, I need to know how to be with people, how to show the right attitude and behave around them.
As with every other big self-improvement step in my life, I decided to learn as much as possible before taking the plunge. Through my research I found 5 ways to practice love for others:
1. My behavior and words should not cause other people suffering. It means being nice and polite to all people. Bothering someone with things of no importance or annoying someone with silly questions and idle talks can rob their precious time and shorten their lives. Hurting someone with rudeness, angry criticism, and judgments is destructive. I should understand that I don’t have any right to criticize others, and if I need to say something to my family I should do it in a humble way and with a soft voice. Judging is another ugly thing and I should remember to replace it with acceptance. Flattery is not a sincere behavior but praising and encouraging others can be a loving act.
2. I should develop an honest and kind attitude toward others. It’s a personal responsibility to be honest; it will be my own psychological burden to live with if I mislead, deceive, or take advantage of people. Learning to listen to people with full attention and without extending any advice or lecturing can be an expression of kindness and compassion.
3. I should try to find the goodness in people. It means believing in a person’s soul first before thinking that someone’s behavior is bad because everyone’s soul is good and pure. Very often a human soul is buried so deep inside that it’s hard to see it. By believing in goodness of the soul, I can treat everyone with underlying kindness and respect.
4. I should generously share my knowledge and skills if they are useful. I should not impose my views or a way of living to others but if someone is interested in my expertise I should share it without expecting any gratitude and rewards.
5. I should learn to serve people. Charity and volunteer work are ways to serve people, and I can do these. Serving people means taking care of my loved ones, offering help to people in the building where I live, in my communities. I believe caring for the nature, the environment, recycling, not littering, cleaning up after pets outside, saving energy, consuming less are all ways to serve people and our planet.
I wish everyone happiness in 2014!
Also by Larisa: My Bikram Yoga Story
Photo: Mike Rastiello via Flickr