On Loss and Love: Lessons Learned 

-in memory of all my loved ones and friends who have passed away

This past week, for me, has been a week of both contemplation and mourning.  The day when I was to attend a memorial service for my friend’s sister, I found out that a dear congregant of my church, who I was just starting to know, had just passed away.  Meanwhile, I heard on the T.V broadcast, more sobering news about the problems of violence in Chicago. Also, I heard on the broadcast that white nationalists and anti-racist protestors where planning marches all across the country. The last time this happened (i.e  last year), there was widespread violence—especially in Charlottesville.  While I have heard that both my friend’s sister and the dear congregant valued people and life, sadly much of society is turning the other way.  I believe that one of the roots of most of society’s ills is the fact that they don’t really value people.

In fact, one lesson that I learned on loss and love is not to take others for granted.  Unfortunately, all of us (including me, of course), have been guilty of taking for granted someone’s presence, at one time or another.  For instance, for many years, I had not taken much of an effort to really help or get to know my aunt. Yes, I appreciated all that she had done for my family and me, but it didn’t register in my head just how much she had done, until she got very sick when I saw her about a month ago.  Fortunately, I still can get to know her now. Also, I was very fortunate that I was able to visit my dear congregant before she passed away and realize what a beautiful and joyous soul she was, even in the midst of her pain and suffering!   Had I not realized how much my aunt had done for me now, and had I not taken the time to see and get to know my dear congregant friend before she had passed away, I would have been filled with regret and deep sadness about missing opportunities to see such beautiful souls.  One practical way not to take others for granted is to thank the people in your life who have had a positive impact on you.  Don’t just assume that they will be with you forever, because even tomorrow is not guaranteed for us—or them either.  Don’t assume they will be able to provide their help or impact you in the way you want them to, because sickness or death may take them.

Another lesson that I have learned on loss and love is to value the time that I have on this earth. Strive not to waste time. I know waiting in line or in traffic may seem like “time-wasters,” but I don’t mean those. The more dangerous time-wasters in our life, I believe, are being jealous of someone, chasing material wealth, and obsessing over our outer appearance.  I am beginning to learn more and more that being jealous of someone (for more on jealousy, or envy, please see this post.)  is so much a waste of time, primarily because it does not work to improve oneself, only to destroy another person.  Also, thinking in your head ways to destroy a person ultimately not only hardens your heart, but also ultimately destroys you, if this envy is left unchecked.  Chasing material wealth is a waste of time because it does not last forever. When you die, you cannot take your wealth or even your car with you.  Being generous and leaving a positive mark on this world will last longer than trying to hold on to something that ultimately will be destroyed or lost.  Obsessing over outer beauty is also a waste of time because ultimately it won’t last. We get older, and eventually our body decomposes after we die.   Yes, we should strive to look and smell decent whenever we can, since this is a gesture of politeness. However, we should not have to spend hours looking good every day just to impress others.  So, how do we save time? I would attest that the best uses of our time are to spend it joyfully with those you love and/or care about, by serving others in need, and by doing what you can to benefit others.

Thirdly, another lesson that I learned in love and loss is to forgive, forgive, and forgive.  Even when a family member hurt my friend and her sister, they still took care of and loved this person when they became sick.  Had they had still held on to their bitterness and resentment, things would have probably turned out much differently.  When we die, knowing we forgave those who had hurt us, I believe we will leave this earth much more joyfully and at peace than if we hold on to bitterness and anger against someone else.  This is one reason that I am glad that I was able to forgive some of the people that I worked with that had hurt me emotionally.   I know I have forgiven one of them, because now I feel closer to them and actually care about them more deeply than I have ever had before.

Finally, but not least, another important lesson in loss and love I learned is to strive to enjoy life.  My dear congregant friend, even though she could barely get out of bed and was in immense pain, still was able to greet my other friend and me with a joyous demeanor when we saw her.  From her, I learned that one is still able to have joy even in the midst of life’s trials. I can have confidence that either or both God and my loved ones will always be with me in the midst of my pain, and in that I can rejoice.  I can look to the positive aspects of my life that are still intact, and focus on those, instead of my pain. I am still struggling to apply this to my life, but I do see some improvements.  My congregant friend, even though she is no longer with us, still inspires me with her infectious smile that was present even in the midst of her illness and suffering.  I also have learned to enjoy every moment of my life.  Even in waiting in line to pay for groceries, for example, one still can enjoy it by striking up conversation with the other people waiting in line for you. This can be an opportunity to see the beauty in the souls with you.   Learn to enjoy life even in the mundane tasks that you may have to do at work or at school.  I see too many people just going through the motions, and then wondering why life is so hard and depressing.  Find joy in the people you are with. Don’t assume that everyone you are going to meet is a jerk. Yes, some of them are, but there are also others who may be very considerate and loving of you.  Try not to focus on the tasks and the people that make us miserable, but on those that help you get through the day.

Both my friend’s sister and my dear congregant friend embraced life and others in a way that allowed them to both enjoy life and value others.  This is the legacy they will leave to me, and this is the same way I strive to live my life. Sometimes, death makes us ponder what our purpose in life is and where we are going.  This pondering is vital so that we can fulfill our life’s purpose and be more focused on what’s most important in our lives. We have only a limited time on this earth. Let’s make it count!

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On Narcissism

Have you ever wondered what some of the root causes of your broken or failed relationships are? I have, and I think it is useful to know because if we know what is ultimately causing destruction in most of the broken relationships we find ourselves entangled in, we could begin the process of repairing and restoring at least some of them.  I have found that most of the broken relationships that I have been in, or have witnessed, have been caused, at least in part, due to one or both parties’ selfishness.  Selfishness is the very nucleus of narcissistic behaviors, which then cause the other parties’ needs not to even be considered or met.  Narcissism is a big problem in much of the world. Some may even submit that the president of my country has problems with narcissistic behaviors and attitudes.  However, I think narcissism not only affects leaders of countries, but even ordinary people as well. Also, the majority of humanity has some issues at some times with narcissistic attitudes or behaviors as well.

In order to understand why narcissism is so bad and how to combat it, we must first understand what it even is.  According to the Cambridge English dictionary, narcissism can be defined by, “too much interest in and admiration for your own physical appearance and/or your own abilities.”   1)  According to the Mayo Clinic and the DSM V criteria, some of the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (i.e  an illness characterized by excessive interest in self) are: a.) Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance b.) Having a constant need for admiration and entitlement.  c) Having an arrogant, boastful, and pretentious way of behaving. d ) an unwillingness or inability to look to the needs and desires of others.  (2). All in all, narcissistic people worship themselves. They think they are gods, and most important in the whole universe.  Because all of us are humans, we all sin (do wrong morally) at least on occasion and thus have struggles with some aspects of narcissism, though probably not enough to have the illness! Though it may seem that narcissistic people have too much self-confidence, I have read and heard that most of them, in fact, have little or no confidence in themselves whatsoever. When something really breaks their spirit, they most likely will have a complete mental breakdown.  However, in order to protect themselves from this, they cover themselves by presenting in an arrogant and often, belittling, attitude towards others. Though not many people are diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or even meet all the necessary criteria for it, the narcissistic mindset is becoming more and more prevalent in our worldly culture, and it is destroying relationships all around us.

When we have even a little of a narcissistic mindset, this attitude produces callousness in our heart. When we think of ourselves, to the exclusion of any other people, we eventually stop caring about the needs around us.  I have found this mindset prevalent when people talk about the poor around us.  They say, “ I would love to donate money to those in need, but I need to take care of myself and my family first.” To them, I would say, “Why can’t you do both?”  Of course, providing for one’s family is essential and probably more important than caring for those you may not know, however, we are also called to donate money to those who need it.  This self-centered mindset can also present itself at work with our co-workers.  For instance, we want to take a break and catch up with a co-worker and friend who we haven’t seen in a week. However, there is another co-worker who feels overwhelmed in her work.  A self-centered mindset would ignore the co-worker feeling overwhelmed for our own desire to talk to our friend.  However, a selfless, caring mindset would sacrifice our desires in order to help a stressed-out co-worker in need.  Also, a narcissistic mindset ultimately hurts others, especially those who are suffering or in need, because it is apathetic to them.  Your own needs trumps others’ needs, creating a relationship where your needs are full, while the others’ are lacking. This creates both friction and an abandoning both of the relationship and that person’s value to you. If we become clinically narcissistic (i.e  having the disorder/illness), this mindset will ultimately hurt and destroy ourselves because it will break off our connections with others.  People will not want to be with us willingly in relationships, and you will fail to see the value and depth in a person.  Narcissism ultimately results in deep loneliness and rejection.

Because of the harms of a narcissistic mindset, we must learn how to combat it in ourselves. One of the most effective ways I have found in combating a narcissistic mindset is to practice gratitude.  For me, when I write or say my prayers, I include at least three things that I am thankful for that day. Other people I know have created a gratitude jar, of all the things that they are most thankful for. Even writing thank-you notes to those people who have most positively affected our lives can be helpful in cultivating an appreciative attitude towards others.  Another effective way to combat narcissism is to live to serve others. Always ask yourself, “How can I serve today?” For instance, if you are married with children, ask yourself, “How can I help my spouse feel loved and appreciated by me? How can I help my spouse be a better husband/wife? How can I help my children to be loved and a better person? How can I cultivate a grateful and joy-filled attitude towards the world around them?”  This servant mindset demands we look at others’ needs as more important than our own. Yes, there is a time for self-care when things get too overwhelming and stressful for us.  Sometimes, we do need to fill ourselves so that we have more to give to others. However, as a general rule, we should look to serve and help others without expectation of return.  Some people may be afraid to serve others because they think they may be taken advantage of by some. While that does happen, when we trust that our good will be rewarded, even if not this side of eternity, and that we are doing the right thing for some higher cause, we will not hesitate to reach out to help others.  Because people like Ghandi and Mother Teresa thought of others before themselves, they changed the world for the better. They created, at least, awareness that each human being should be treasured or loved, regardless of their social status or income, or any other human identifier.
Thus, a narcissistic mindset is excessive admiration and thought for oneself to the point of self-worship. This attitude can harm others because it devalues and discounts them and their needs. This attitude also harms the person with this mindset because it produces a spirit of callousness and apathy within their heart for others, especially many of those who have suffered because of their self-centered behaviors, and  this mindset ultimately ruins all their relationships.  However, when we are vigilant to combat narcissism  in ourselves and become selfless instead, we are then free to love and serve others with joy and contentment, both for ourselves and for others.

 

 

 

 

Sources:  1) English Cambridge Dictionary. Accessed August 5, 2018. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/narcissism

2) Mayo Clinic Staff. (November 18, 2017). Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662

True love

True love

True love is giving someone more mercy and grace than they deserve.

True love is focusing on the good of someone even after they betrayed you.

True love is sacrificing yourself, even if you are not feeling well, to serve and to be with those you love.

True love is valuing someone so much that you want the best for them even if their future is not to be with you forever.

True love is helping those in need without expectation of return.

True love is valuing those who may not seem attractive to you.

True love is telling someone difficult truths, not so they feel bad about themselves or fall into despair, but so they can see the light and become a better person.

True love is about encouraging others who need to see the difference they have made in yours and others’ lives when they feel like they have nothing to show for their effort.

True love is about giving hope and joy to those who you think are least deserving.

True love is about sacrificing your time and money to help those who need your love and support now.

True love is about laying down your life, so that others may live.

True love is about sacrificing your desires, so that others may have a chance to blossom and rejoice.

True love is about letting the car, whose driver is in a hurried panic, cut in front of you, during construction.

True love is about forgiving someone who had hurt you deeply, and then investing deeply in them.

True love is about caring about the safety of others by warning them if they are about to fall into danger.

True love is about persevering through a tough situation, consistently, so that others may be spared of the pain you are going through.

True love is about giving your all to those you love, so their lives may be bettered and so they can start a chain reaction of positivity.

Importance of Gratitude

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 40 million adults in the U.S suffer from anxiety and anxiety-related disorders, including depression, each year.   (1) That’s a lot of people! Though with many types of depression, there is a chemical imbalance in the brain that is more successfully treated with medication, I think there is also a more natural way to at least alleviate some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression—gratitude.  I am not saying that everyone that suffers from depression or anxiety is ungrateful. After all, I am one of the people that struggles with depression and anxiety myself. However, I have found that when I focus more on what I do have, as opposed to what I don’t have, I often find myself more content with life.  Not only does gratitude often relieve depressive and anxiety symptoms, but it is also an essential ingredient in enhancing relationships one has with loved ones and the rest of the world. Here’s why:

Gratitude is an essential ingredient in one’s joy.  According to many studies, gratitude can also undo negative emotions and enhance one’s joy (2).  Gratitude, I think, is not only being content with what one already has, but also being content or making the best of one’s life circumstances.  This attitude, I have found, consistently helps me see that things are often not as bad as they could be. One way I have found that works for me in being more grateful is not to compare myself with people that have more than me, but to compare myself with people who are less fortunate than me.  For instance, last week, I was very sick, but I still could walk around and get out of bed if necessary. Some of the ways that I saw this situation that helped me get better was a.) I focused on the fact that I had a couple days off work, so I didn’t have to push myself harder than I should. So, I was able to use the time I had off to rest, and not focus so much on the fact that the next time I worked that I had to do so six straight days in a row b.) the fact that I still could get out of bed  and be conscious of what was going on around me.  There are a few people I know, and many people around the world, who have much difficulty even getting out of bed in the morning! Even in the depths of my short battle with a stomach bug, I still could get out of bed fairly easily.   Also, when I was on vacation, we had a breakfast that many of my family were not satisfied with because we had invested a lot, but they felt that they got little return on. However, I decided to focus on the fact that we even got breakfast at all! This attitude helped me a.) Enjoy the food given more and b.) Enjoy the other, more positive aspects of our trip.

Gratitude is, I believe, also an essential ingredient in one’s peace.  I have found, in my own experience, and in observing others’ experiences, that gratitude reduces worry and fear significantly.  Moreover, it eliminates the motivation for being envious of others.  I have shared with you in previous posts, how I was envious of those who were happily married with children and also my brother’s academic success growing up.  However, in the past couple years, I have realized that being single and where I am at now career wise, are still evidences of God’s grace upon my life and how far I am able to come despite the obstacles I had to overcome.  I also decided to focus on the blessings of the season of life I’m at now, instead of just the negative parts.  For instance, instead of dwelling on how lonely single life can get, I now focus on the fact that I have relative freedom to see the people I want, and not have to consult my significant other every time I want to do something.  I also can minister to more people that I would probably not be able to much if I were married or in any other type of romantic relationship.

I also find that when I am grateful, my fears and worries tend to fade.   For instance, when I get paranoid that certain people will hurt me emotionally, career-wise, or in any other way , I find that when I instead focus on the people that appreciate and care about me, that I don’t think about those “other” people anymore.   However, last week, when I was slightly annoyed that one of my managers gave me a tough assignment, someone immediately reminded me that this person gave me a tougher assignment because they had more confidence in me than other associates. When I focused on that, instead of the toughness of the assignment, I had a more merciful and grateful attitude towards this manager.

Gratitude is also an essential ingredient in love. I have found that most relationships that have been strained or destroyed are like that because one or both parties did not value the other person or persons in it. I believe this is most often true in cases where one party is abusing, instead of valuing, the other.   Gratitude improves relationships, I believe, because its emphasis is on valuing others and their accomplishments in a personal way.  For instance, there were several people at my work that I had trouble seeing eye-to-eye with. However, when I intentionally focused on what they did well and appreciated the good that they did, as opposed to just their faults, I found that my relationships with them significantly improved!  An ingredient in gratitude, I believe, that is not often talked about in most religious circles, is validation.  One of my good online friends demonstrates this to me almost every time we chat together.  Instead of focusing on things that I do wrong or that are wrong, she tries to focus on the positive things that I did and uses language that does not discount me or my experiences. She validates me, and this has helped me to have hope that more people will understand me better and not to lose hope in humanity. Another essential ingredient in gratitude and love, is valuing the time we have with those that love and care for us.  When my one aunt sacrificed her time and her energy just so she could spend time with and accommodate us, even though she was very sick at the time, I found that I valued her presence and time more because of her sacrifices that she made on behalf of my family and me.

As one can see, gratitude is an essential ingredient in joy, peace, and love.  I was not always a grateful person. In fact, in the past, I used to gripe about anything and everything that didn’t go my way and focus on those things, and overlooking any blessings that were given to me.  However, in June 2014, my gallbladder (for more on this story, see this link) almost burst, since it was twice the size it should have been and inflamed. Thankfully, the gallbladder was taken out before anything serious happened to me.  However, it was only three years later, while relating this story to a co-worker, and she said, “You could have died!,” that I realized the value of my life and all that I have been blessed with by God and others.  Don’t let a potentially fatal experience like mine be your wake-up call to the importance of gratitude.  Be thankful today. Therefore, when you are content with what you have and strive to make the best of every situation, you will eventually have more joy, peace, and love in your life and in your relationships with others.

 

 

 

 

 

1)  Anxiety Disorders Association of America. (2017).Facts and Statistics.  Retrieved from: https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics.

2) Greenberg, Melanie, Ph.D,   (November 12, 2015).   How Gratitude Leads to a Happier Life. Psychology Today.  Retrieved from:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201511/how-gratitude-leads-happier-life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Be Trustworthy

Even though most of us would consider ourselves to be pretty trustworthy people, as time goes on, it seems that we are able to trust other people less. Whether it is the fear mongering in our society, or just long-held perceptions we have of certain professions, ethnic groups, or other human identifiers, society as a whole is growing increasingly fearful and suspicious of one another.  In fact, a study done, which was referenced by Josh Morgan, a sociologist who wrote a recent article in Reader’s Digest, showed that in 2016, fewer than one in three people agreed that “most people could be trusted,” whereas almost 50 years ago, more than half of the surveyed people thought that “most people could be trusted.” In the article, Morgan also stated that he wanted to help people to be able to trust again (Morgan, 96).  Both he and I can probably attest, that a positive change like that starts with the person looking back at you in the mirror. We need to be sure that we are cultivating trustworthiness, not only to ourselves, but also to others. Here are some qualities of trustworthiness that we all (me included) should strive to practice every day:

  1. Be honest.—Most people tend to be honest only when it would be convenient for them to do so, or if they don’t find reason to lie. However, when we are inconvenienced by telling the truth, that is when we tend to lie. For instance, you find $100 in a wallet near a parked car and no one is around you. What would you do? Many people, in my opinion, would take the money for themselves, because they fear if they were honest they wouldn’t get the money or a tangible reward for being honest. Also, if we make a mistake that could cost us our jobs, do we tell our supervisor or keep quiet and hope no one notices, or deny it when asked?  Many people would do the latter two things. However, I strive when I can, to let the supervisor know about the mistakes that I make, especially when it could be a real determent to the company.  Even when honesty can cost your reputation or job, we still should strive not to lie or fudge the truth because we will eventually be found out anyway.  Even though many of the people who were accused of sexual impropriety had tried to hide or deny the allegations for many years, eventually many of them were found out. Also, the people who tried to sweep the allegations under the rug, so to speak, were found out! I have found that most people who lie tend to think that they will never be caught. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Eventually, their real selves will show and less and less people will ever trust them again.
  2. Limit Gossip.—I have heard so much gossip in my many years working in various places, it isn’t even funny. This gossip, inevitably, has caused some drama and hurt feelings sometimes. I have found that when others (or, even, regrettably, I) have gossiped or slandered someone else, it is because either we don’t like that person or persons, or those people have made us upset in some way. That is why I believe that when you have a problem with someone, it is best to take it up with them first. If you already have and they don’t respond well or are gossipers themselves, then take it with the proper authorities. For instance, I had a situation where I tried to explain to someone my actions, but they took it as me trying to be sneaky and manipulative. However, I did take it to the authorities and the people involved in the incident first.  I have also had some people at work tell me unfavorable things about either a co-worker or a manager that they didn’t like. I wonder how many of them had tried to resolve the issue they were having with said person first before they came to me and others about the problem and person.  If we are either too stressed or upset to deal with the person or situation, we should either talk with a counselor or the proper authorities.  Otherwise, we should always try to work things out with the person we are having problems with first, and not try to bad mouth the person to others who are not involved in the incident, and cannot help you resolve the situation with said person.
  3. Check your motives.—A vital element of being trustworthy is taking a good, long look in the mirror. I don’t mean looking your outer appearance, but who you are inside. Avoid doing things, whenever possible, with impure motives or with duplicity. For instance, never feign a friendship or relationship with another person just to get something for your own gain.   When you are friends with someone, be sure you are being with that person for their sake also and because you can bring something of value to their life. Whenever you want to do something good for someone else, ask yourself why you are doing it.  That way, if you have any impure motives, you can resolve them before it becomes an issue for that other person. For instance, if you want to donate money for a friend’s cause, just so that they will spend more time with you, but you look introspectively and discover this duplicity in yourself, then you may decide not to donate until your motives are purified. Also, you may decide later to donate, but also to support your friend, not just so he or she would spend more time with you.
  4. Build Relationships.—Another element of being trustworthy is to build relationships with others. This doesn’t just mean talking to others occasionally or making small talk. Building relationships means really getting to know others and their life stories. It means caring for others’ needs and desires, and sometimes being willing to sacrifice yourself or your desires for their sake. When you strive to build relationships and be unified with those around you, you will ultimately be more trusted.

When we are honest, are not gossiping or slandering others, checking our motives for doing what we do to make sure they are pure and righteous, and when we strive to build relationships, we will ultimately be even more trustworthy than we think ourselves now.  It is interesting to note that when we ourselves strive to be trustworthy, we are usually able to better trust the people around us too. Trust will then cultivate a pure love that will last.

 

Sources: Morgan, Josh. (June 2018), Learning to Trust Again. Reader’s Digest.1141, 95-99.

Importance of Authenticity

Do you ever wonder why, in many countries, bringing in knock-off high-end merchandise can elicit fines and the confiscation of said items? Do you ever wonder why so many people are turned off by pretense and lies from another?  There is something about having authenticity that trumps having an imitation or, let’s say, a knock-off of something real. Having something that is authentic, both in merchandise and, more importantly, in one’s character, bring much value to the person or item in question.  This is why it is so important to strive to be an authentic person.

In order for us to be able to be authentic in our character, we must first know what being genuine is not. First of all, being authentic is not just being a good person. It is especially not just trying to “earn” one’s way into heaven. Being authentic goes further than just being nice to get a return for a kind deed.  Moreover, if you are trying to do something nice for someone and do so to expect to get even a “thank you “for it, you are not really being authentically kind to that person, but more to get good feelings for yourself. Also, being authentic is not simply being really honest, to the point of hurting someone’s feelings without regard for that person.  Yes, honesty is a vital component to authenticity, but a truly genuine person does not need to hurt others in order to get true respect from others.

So, then, what components do comprise a truly authentic person? Well, first of all, a truly genuine person is not afraid to be who they were made to be, no matter the cost. For instance, I have read and heard about in various sources that both Fred Rogers and Rachel Joy Scott strove to be kind to others, no matter who was watching them, and even in the face of ridicule and opposition. Being authentic sometimes involves what I call “upsetting the applecart,” and not going with the crowd if your truly believe that your way is better or to correct an injustice you see in this world.  Another quality of an authentic person is their willingness to be vulnerable when necessary without fear of what other people may do or think. They regularly apologize and admit their failings when they make mistakes. They don’t feel the need to hide their failures, especially if those shaped who they are today.  Finally, a truly authentic person not only values honesty in themselves and others, but loves without pretense or compromise. For instance, an authentic person would never pretend to befriend someone in order to manipulate them for their own gains. They would also understand the importance of loyalty; their family and friends would know exactly where they stand with the authentic person. There are no games involved in their relationships—what you see in them is exactly what you will end up getting.

Yes, being authentic can be tough sometimes, and it does involve sacrifice sometimes, but it is so important and so needed in a world that can be full of drama and duplicity.  One reason why being authentic in character is so important is because genuineness is a vital component to having strong, lasting relationships.  While relationships based on lies can last maybe a few years, they will eventually break and the lies will eventually be found out causing immense pain to both parties involved. If there is no authenticity in a relationship, true trust cannot be built and it will eventually fall under the pressure of trials and temptations. However, if you have an authentic relationship with someone, then love and trust can flourish. You will know where you stand with each other, because there will be open and honest conversation between you and the other person.  No one will be afraid to be who they really are, or feel that the other has hidden motives in the relationship.

Because being authentic allows for strong and loving relationships with others, it will bring joy to us and the people with who we commune. Also, the people in both parties will feel free to be who they really are without worrying about being judged, rejected, or lied to by the other person.

However, if we are fake, and not authentic, our lies and hidden motives will eventually be found out, and we will become less desirable to be around.  People won’t trust us anymore because of our duplicity and will second-guess our motives because of our previous lies.  For instance, some of the Hollywood actors who have been accused of sexual misconduct had the guise of being family man or someone “charming” to be around. Since their real selves have been revealed, many, not only in their acting community, but also those in the general public, are now disgusted with them and don’t want to even be associated with them anymore.

When we are authentic though, our integrity is built up and we are considered by people as someone that can be trusted.  We not only gain respect from others, but we have confidence that we are doing the morally right thing.  Sadly, having great authenticity in character is a rare find these days. However, if we strive every day to be more and more genuine in our character, not only will that help us gain confidence, but also help change the world for the better.

Losing Pride, Gaining Joy

I believe that one of the greatest causes of conflict and emotional pain in this world today is pride. Society sees humility as a weakness—an admission of guilt or defect. However, what if we gained the awareness that we are all weak in some way? What if we realized that our weaknesses, even the ones that we want no one to know about, do not diminish our worth as a person?  What if we realized that it is not all about us? What if we realized how valuable our life is, and, thus used our time to make a positive impact on the world around us?

Here is what I learned about how to lose arrogant pride and thus gain joy:

  1. View life as a gift.—About four years ago, I started having pains in my side. My parents and I thought it was just a hernia from lifting heavy things at my job at the time. However, when I started throwing up blood, my parents drove me to the hospital, and I was admitted almost right away. As it turned out, my gall bladder was about twice the size it should have been and inflamed.  If I had waited just a few hours later to go to the hospital, my gall bladder would have burst, and I would probably not be here to share this story with you today.  Strangely enough, I did not realize how close I was to death, until about three years later, when a co-worker from my current job exclaimed, “You could have died!” when I told her my story. Hopefully, it won’t take almost dying to view your life as a gift, but that is what I realized that day. Another time when I could have come close to dying was when I was driving to church, a few months ago, and a driver could have crashed into me and caused a serious accident had I not stopped for them in the nick of time!  From those incidents, I realized how fleeting life can be, and how it can be taken from me at any moment.  Thus, I also realized that we should view each blessing (good thing) that we are given as a gift and treat them accordingly.  Another thing I learned about life is to savor each moment we are given, because we will never be given the exact same opportunities again. Often, we (me included) are so busy that we just brush past our activities and those we encounter, and don’t really enjoy or value them.  Nearly dying at least twice in my life, has helped me begin to savor each moment more. It is a work in progress, but I found that when I am able to slow down and savor the moment, I am much more joyful and less stuck on myself and what I want to accomplish at that time.
  2. Stop comparing and envying.—Envy and the comparison game are great contributors to arrogant pride. I mentioned in a previous post that I was envious of several people in my life because I felt inadequate and lacking compared to them. However, several years ago, I realized that by envying them, I was accomplishing absolutely nothing for my own life.  Envying them did not make me more successful or strengthen my relationships to these people. In fact, it probably created an invisible barrier between us!   Another thing I learned (and am continuing to learn) is to stop comparing myself to people that I think are “better” in some way than me. This only leads to depression and/or prideful arrogance against them, as one may compensate by thinking about something in themselves that is way better than the envied person just to cover up their envy.
  3. Treasure others as much as yourself.—One way to combat arrogant pride is to think more (or as much) about others as yourself. For example, if you see someone is tired and stressed out at your job because they are overwhelmed by their work, offer to help them out. Do not only think about how much you are stressed out or how much you want to go home, right now. Another way to treasure others as much as you is to learn other people’s life stories.  Get to know people, not only their favorite foods or their favorite sport, but also what their goals in life are, what makes them joyful and sad, what happened in their past to make them the people they are today. Above all, live to serve others.  This does not mean to be a doormat and cater to someone taking advantage of you. However, living to serve others means to sometimes sacrifice what you want, for another person’s joy.  It also means living to make a positive difference in others’ lives and bringing hope to others.
  4. We should also stop thinking that anyone “owes” us anything.—The entitlement mentality also is a great contributor to arrogant pride because it focuses exclusively on self and our “rights.” The longer I live, the more I realize that no one really “owes” me anything. When I view everything as a gift, this thinking can be stopped right in its tracks. Another way to stop entitlement mentality is to remember the mercy and grace shown to you  in your life. For example, if you did something nice for someone else, and that person does not even say “Thank you,” do not hold a grudge against them because you think you have “the right” to be appreciated.  Instead, remember all the times someone else did something nice to you and you forgot to say thank you, but they did not hold it against you.  Also, try to remember the times where you did not get the bad you deserved, or got the good you did not merit. For instance, even though I am sometimes selfish and bone-headed, people still generally treat me with kindness and patience.  Remembering this helps me to lose the mentality that I am “owed” anything.

 

When we live each day as a gift given to us, rather than something we are owed, we gain much joy and hope in our lives. Also, when we stop comparing and envying what others have, we are much more apt to appreciate and focus on the good we already are blessed to possess.  Finally, when we live to serve others, rather than just ourselves, we get away from the “poor-me” and  entitlement mentalities and gain much joy in knowing we have made a positive difference in countless lives.