The Best Investment
Recently I asked my daughter to attend a social function with me while she was home on college break. She agreed to accompany me. I couldn’t help but notice that she had second thoughts, because she made sure to mention to me as we were getting ready to leave the house that she did not really want to go. She was doing it for me.
“Thank you.” I said.
This answer did not satisfy her. So she reiterated that she had no desire to go. I once again responded with a simple “Thank you.”
To make sure that I was aware of her state of mind she added, “If you know that I don’t want to go and I am doing it for you anyway, doesn’t that bother you?”
“Because I am helping you build the relationship muscles.”
“You will need strength of mind as you apply yourself in achieving your spiritual goals, as well as your goals in school, career, marriage, friendship and childrearing – everything you will need to have a successful life.”
“What? I don’t get it! What does accompanying you to an event that I don’t want to attend have to do with everything you mentioned?”
“Well, sweetie, this may come as a shocker to you, but do you think that I really wanted to give up a full night’s sleep every night for over 7 years? You know how much I love my sleep. I got up every single time you or your siblings cried out in the night. Do you think that I was overjoyed to choose to give you all my time and energy when I was exhausted or not feeling well or just wanted some ‘me’ time? No. I chose you over me. And I repeatedly chose you over me. The reason I did it was not because I am a martyr, but because I was and still am invested in this relationship. I choose you, because my choice to invest in our relationship gives me long-term fulfillment. Fulfillment doesn’t get developed on its own. Loving you is my choice. In fact, choosing love over comfort is the wisest and hardest choice any of us can make – and it is well worth it!”
Although she was a bit annoyed that she did not win our repartee, nonetheless, she hugged me and thanked me for loving her; which, by the way, added to my long-term fulfillment. We have to work our self-sacrifice mindset like a muscle. The more we use it, the stronger we become. The more we live in the space called “Love”, the more we upgrade the quality of our lives.
Love is not an emotion that you feel when you are attracted to someone. That is called ‘infatuation’ and is usually a temporary experience.
Love is a choice that you employ with your actions. You build love like a muscle. You know you are working your love muscle when your body consciousness wants to do what it wants to do for receiving instant energy, and is overridden by your love muscle that chooses to share instead.
It can be, and usually is, uncomfortable or downright painful in the moment to override our “Desire to Receive for the Self Alone” robotic program within all of us. Don’t let that stop you. A pinch now is worth the happiness that builds from it.
Marriage takes a whole lot of love muscle to work. Parenting even more so. Do you want to build a very successful career? It will most probably mean working more than 40 hours a week. If you are going to do it, know that you will be making sacrifices to achieve your fulfillment in work, so do it with love.
Do you want a high GPA? Plan to spend your ‘fun’ time in the library or just hitting the books instead of hanging out with your friends whenever you feel like it.
I know it may sound discouraging, but, believe it or not, this is how you build high self-esteem, as well as meaningful, fulfilling and lasting relationships.
My advice to all parents, it is never too early to teach your children the spiritual laws of life.
When my children were young, I used to read them bedtime stories while they were tucked in bed.
One of our favorite stories is a fable called “The Little Red Hen”.
In the fable, the little red hen finds a grain of wheat and asks for help from 3 other farmyard animals, a duck, dog, and goat, to plant the seed to grow wheat to be made into bread, but they all refuse.
At each later stage (harvest, threshing, milling the wheat into flour, and baking the flour into bread), the hen again asks for help from the other animals, but again she doesn't receive any help.
Finally, the hen has completed her task and asks who will help her eat the bread. This time, all the previous non-participants eagerly volunteer, but she refuses them, stating that no one helped her with her work. Thus, the hen eats it with her chicks, leaving none for anyone else.
It is never too late nor too early to learn the rules of fulfillment by way of cause and effect.
Building connectedness in relationships requires long-term investment. Fulfillment requires a mandatory process of constant effort. Another key ingredient is to do it with love.
It all boils down to those times when you may not feel like going out of your way to share with a loved one – and you do it anyway. This is one of the essential ways we build our ‘love muscles’. It is good for your loved ones. And, most importantly, it is beneficial for you.
The quality of foundational relationships like marriage and parenting depend on the development of our ‘love muscles’, the ability to temporarily override our selfish desires in order to put someone else first. This is what helps us feel connected to our inner self worth and to build lasting meaningful relationships with everyone else.
If we just did whatever we want whenever we felt like doing it, we would not develop the ability to feel connected within, we would not be able to sustain healthy, long-term relationships which open to the door to so many other problems and most of all, heartache. Every choice we make has a consequence, even if we don’t think it is significant. The Spiritual Law of Cause and Effect takes it from there.
To sum it up:
Consistent conscious sharing
A Fulfilled life
Is it worth it? You do the math.