Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Smile and the world smiles with you? You bet.

Who fills you up?

If any of the people I encounter on a daily basis -- whether it's strangers, friends or family -- are less than welcoming to me or do anything that I perceive as rude, whether I'm correct with that perception or not, it impacts the level of love I am able to show them.
What I've learned from all this is that having the desire to show Christ-like love to the world around you isn't enough; to actually do it, you must first stop needing the world to give you something -- anything -- first. I don't think there's anything wrong with appreciating the good feelings that come with pleasant social interactions, or even kindly letting people know when they have done something hurtful, but it's when we ("we" meaning "I") start deriving our strength from other people that it becomes a problem.

This idea is actually something I concluded a few years back as well. I tended to withdraw and reject others based upon what I presumed was a rejection of me. What I began to realize was that, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, those people were just experiencing their own troubles and weren't rejecting me at all. In fact, I figured very little in their world. Even people who I spent a lot of time with, these people also had lives and issues and things they were feeling and dealing with -- things that I had absolutely nothing at all to do with, nor was I even aware of them.

What I realized was that they were also basing their "love" on what they were receiving from ME... and that if I adopted the old bromide of "bring a smiling visage to the glass," I would be further along in developing positive relationships with others. If I smiled and said complimentary things AND MEAN THEM, even to people who might be behaving rudely, it might just turn their day around and cause them to feel better about themselves. This, in turn, would make my own life more bearable.

It works. If I walk into the school office and say, "Hey gorgeous!" to the secretary, she smiles and says something self-deprecatory, but down deep it matters to her. And it makes a difference. People who feel appreciated can then give appreciation... kind-of like back when I read The Five Love Languages and the book talked about "filling up a person's love tank," meaning that if someone felt truly loved, they could then effectively GIVE love back.

I made up my mind that even though I didn't always "feel" loved, I knew that I was, and that I wanted others around me to know that they were, too.

One reason this is so easy for me, though, is that I am a classic attention-deficit personality, and I can't remember if you were rude to me earlier. I couldn't hold a grudge if I tried, because in about thirty seconds I will forget what you said or did. Hey, having ADD isn't all bad, let me tell you.

Look! A skwerl!

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