The tools of love are in fact the tools for change. We can not bring about any change, with in ourselves or around us, unless it is genuinely backed up by love.
Love is the will to grow ourselves spiritually and mentally. Thus to start loving some one begins with loving ourselves first.
Through out my writings, when ever I have used the word love, I have used it with the four senses and meanings or tools which it contains. I therefore am not referring to the love from romance literature or Holly Wood movies when I speak of love.
We grow ourselves through the four tools of love. Love is the energy with which we use the following four tools in our lives.
Thus if any of the four tools is absent, we can question the genuineness of love. In a sense, these can also be called the 4 test signs of love!
Thus to change your self to a higher level, follow the four simple themes. They are not new. They are perhaps as old as the humanity. The key, however is to follow them in total and absolute commitment to yourself to change.
I promise you would change because I have.
The First Tool:
To love ourselves first we have to be willing to assume and accept one hundred percent responsibility. We have to accept that what ever we are, what ever we are getting in life and how so ever we are spending our lives is determined by us and us alone. i.e. we are responsible.
There are two signs of not accepting the responsibility: blaming and complaining. If we are either blaming others or full of complaints about life and whatever life has to offer to us, we are in fact not being very responsible.
Accepting responsibility means, we created our results in life and only we can re-create them. In re-creating we have to face the pain and go through an effort.
Going through this effort nurtures our spirit and grows us mentally. By not accepting our responsibility, we refuse to grow. We show ourselves that we do not think ourselves worthy of growth and nurturing.
We act non-lovingly. We act non-responsibly.
Step to do: Just repeat this to yourself 5 times: No blames, No complaints. And commit to yourself to never blame or complain again in life. Ever!
The Second Tool:
Being able to truly love ourselves involves delaying gratification.
This can be best explained by the experiment conducted with children aged 4 to 6 at Stanford University in 1972. They were offered marshmallows on a condition. Those children who would eat it right now, would get only one. Those who would chose to eat 30 minutes later would get two. Those who would choose to eat after an hour would get three.
Majority of the children chose to eat now. A little less opted for half an hour wait and further less number of children opted for wait for a full hour.
Years later studying the careers of the children, was discovered that those who were able to delay or defer the gratification had achieved a significantly higher level of success in their career.
Delaying gratification would thus mean postponing instant relief and joy for a much higher cause.
For that first, we have to have a higher cause; a direction or a destiny which we want to achieve. It is a fact that people with aimless lives are not able to exercise delaying gratifications and they can fall for any thing that brings instant joy to their five senses.
We face countless situations in our daily life, where we have to delay our gratification.
There always exists a deferred achievement and an instant gratification for every emotion we feel. The gratification for anger for example is to take it out, immediately, instantly, with all the frustration on the person whom you think is responsible. Yet there is a higher achievement reward if we chose to delay our bursting out. It is a high mutual trust, respect and strengthened bond between us and the person involved.
The gratification for a news paper reading is that no one disturbs us but if our 4 year old kid comes to us with a drawing book, we have to delay our gratification and attend to the child. For a higher reward of bond, love and value.
Step to do: Despite all the lazy day and a dull mood and a grey sullen sky, chose to do the difficult task first. Choose the hard nut to crack first. Begin with the hardest problem. Begin by taking a small step towards the hardest problem. Begin!
The Third Tool:
is observing and succumbing ourselves to truth.
We have to be determined in its purest sense to bow our heads down before the truth, no matter what it is or how much does it go against our benefits or previous beliefs or against how we have been handling things previously.
We may have been believing some thing for years and suddenly find out that we were wrong; if we truly love ourselves, we have to accept the truth.
Truth some times is like a tree outside our house, but we often do not know what tree is it or how many branches its’ stem spreads into? Or in many cases, we do not know if a tree is there or not?
If we are not able to do that, we clearly do not love ourselves. We love our egos. We love to keep our head high and believe and make others believe that we were right, but in side deep down of ourselves, we would know that our size has shrunk.
Step to do: Every single night before retiring to bed. Think about the tasks that you did not do out of laziness. Think about all day that you spent. Think about every important task you did or you could not do. Think about the time that you let go waste. Think that you could have been wrong. Think that you could have accepted a fact, which you did not.
Just keep on doing that. Even if this exercise does not make you take an immediate action, gradually it shall pull you up for taking an action. Taking an action against mental laziness or sticking to your past or to things.
Do not take this exercise as light. Just keep on doing it. It would sow the seeds of transformation, that would germinate into seedlings when the right time comes.
The Fourth Tool:
Keeping a balance. We tend to lose balance at times. We cannot judge how much time we are supposed to give to our work and to our kids. We lose how much important people are some times as compared to the new promises made to keep a routine and that routine is broken by an unannounced guest.
We have to know how to keep the balance. We have to be a good athelete, a good learner / teacher, a good monk and a good farmer at the same time.
We have to keep a balance between work and personal life.
We have to keep a balance between physical fitness, mental and spiritual growth, contribution and financial activities or professional / business life.
Keeping the balance involves wise judgment, which at times becomes quite painful.
Balancing also means to discipline ourselves before we try to discipline our children, subordinates or our spouse. We find our child misbehaving in front of our guests and we feel threatened at our up bringing. So we try to discipline her /him through scolding, lure or threat of being left alone. The act of disciplining has to be disciplined itself. That is called balancing.
Keeping a balance when to allow your son a toy and when not involves a great deal of wisdom. This is often painful. Our willingness to go through this pain is a sign of true love. Keeping a balance is the fourth tool, through which we exercise love !
Step to do:
Stop considering your life into separate compartments of home, office, social or sport activity.
Rather decide to give equal time to each activity, daily. Though no matter how small the time slot may be.
Decide to take care of your health, walk back home if possible or get off the car 2 miles away and walk the distance. Decide to spend half an hour with your kids, just you and your kids. Spend time to read. Spend time in silence. Daily for ten minutes or fifteen.
Decide to be representing balance and do that. Balance out life and your roles through time. Write your roles and time spent against each role per week and balance that.
Yesss ! that’s hard work. All this is effortful, but who said it wasn’t ? But it is worth the effort.
(This article has been inspired by the work of Dr. Scott Peck )