GIVING OUT GOOD
According to my spiritual guide – a book called “A Course in Miracles” – forgiveness is the key to happiness. But, as explained in an earlier blog posting, the Course’s idea of forgiveness is not as we usually understand and practice it. More about this in a future blog.
Hand in glove with forgiveness is what I call – “giving out good” to others, or altruism.
Here is another extract from my current book (an unedited work in progress) – THE WISE OLD MAN & THE KID, A Guide to Living a Positive Life – where Davey the old man, is sharing his life experiences with Noah, a 15 year-old kid (yep, I’ve aged him by three years, thanks to thoughtful feedback and persuasion from some of my blog readers). In the book, Davey is a successful author and is currently writing his autobiography, with the objective of helping others, especially young people, avoid some of the painful mistakes he’d made throughout his life’s journey because of wrong-minded decisions.
“How are you today, Davey?” asked the kid plonking his fishing gear on the jetty alongside the old man.
“Sensational – but getting better!” Davey replied with a broad grin on his face.
Noah laughed. “How come you’re so happy all the time? From what you told me so far, you’ve suffered from depression, setbacks and disappointments all of your life. And yet, no one would ever guess that given your positive and happy outlook.”
“You know, Noah, what you’ve just said is music to my ears,” replied Davey, slowly stretching his arms to the sky after resting his fishing rod against a nearby pylon.
“It’s good to receive an affirmation from someone else about how I feel inside about myself.”
“What do you mean?”
“Happiness has been building up inside of me for sometime now. A few years ago I began to sense that my mindset was beginning to be infected with happiness.”
“A figure of speech. Of course the sudden and unexpected loss of my wife, Laura, recently set me back for many months as I went through the grieving process. However, as soon as I began to extricate myself from this profound sense of loss and sadness, something began to replace it.”
“Yes. imperceptibly at first, a sense of peace eased into my consciousness. Then it gradually grew stronger and I experienced increasing periods of peace and contentment. Then these deep feelings of contentment progressively expanded into an unequivocal sense of intense happiness and joy. Funnily enough this was happening regardless of what was going on around me; regardless of external upsets or problems. This was a durable, permanent happiness – not vulnerable and incomplete happiness. It seemed to emerge from the core of my being.”
“It was miraculous when you realize where I was coming from.”
“All of my life I was a pessimist, allowing – indeed, encouraging - my negative thoughts and attitude to reign supreme. I now know I sought for happiness in all the wrong places – externally, of course – in pleasure-seeking and addictions. However, seeking out good times and self-centered gratification never produced anything more than emptiness and guilt; and pleasures that dissolved as quickly as a chunk of ice on the pavement on a hot day.”
“Why do you say you ‘encouraged’ negative thinking?”
“Good question. On reflection, thinking negatively and pessimistically became addictions in themselves, and became hard-wired into my attitude. This way of thinking had become so embedded in and imprinted on my mind, my immediate and automatic response to events was always to see the bad side of things, not the good. This close-minded response was designed to lock out the favorable and positive in order to keep me enslaved with a glass half-empty attitude, thus denying myself from being happy.
“Of course this self-centered focus, where only my needs counted, shut the door on my giving any consideration to others. No, my focus was entirely on my perceived needs. Altruism was never on my agenda. Why should I consider others and try to make them happy? What was in it for me?”
“What do you mean by ‘altruism?’”
“’Altruism’ is concern for the welfare of others. It’s the opposite of selfishness. Belatedly in life I realized the value of being altruistic. Only then I began to understand the universal law of reciprocity,” said Davey, quickly intuiting that Noah was going to ask him what ‘reciprocity’ meant. “The law of reciprocity simply put means - what you give out, comes back to you in some form. So, if you give out good, that’s what is returned to you. Conversely, give out bad and you’ll get it back as well.
“I discovered that giving out good also made me happy. It played an important part in allowing me to release the happiness I’d suppressed inside me most of my life. In short, I think I’ve gone from a glass half-empty kind of person to a glass half-full one.”
TO BE CONTINUED