You become what you practice. This is most evident when you study and train for a career. Whether learning to be a plumber or painter, teacher or stock trader, gaining knowledge and skills is essential. By constantly putting them to use, you gradually become proficient in your chosen field. Similarly your goal to be a kind, caring person requires commitment to learning and practicing. You don’t just wake up one morning filled with the ‘milk of human kindness’.

First you must commit to KNOWING yourself. This does not have to be daunting. Constant introspection is not required. Just be HONEST with yourself. You have your wants and desires. You behave certain ways to fulfill them. And you know in your heart how insidious some self-serving habits can be … how they can dominate your life and make caring difficult. Examples abound. Consider one, a most common propensity: Self-consciousness. You walk into a restaurant. Strangers’ eyes are upon you. Your thoughts and feelings immediately revolve around your appearance, how you sound, the impressions you make. You try to mask this with a semblance of maturity and sophistication. “How are you?” “Haven’t we met?” Acceptable societal babble follows. Sound familiar? Of course. We have all been there. Self-conscious accommodation determines what you think and say. Fortifying your ‘image’ is paramount. Focusing on the needs of others rare. How often have you reflected afterwards and wished you had acted differently? Been more yourself. Empathetic.

You are always learning about yourself. Often you are surprised by what you think and do. You ‘mean well’ but something ‘inside’, ego perhaps, puts up a shield and hides behind it. Your self-serving, self-preserving mechanism handicaps your altruism. This can easily dominate your life. Loving others can become too risky. What a tragedy this is. So many opportunities lost. Can you change?

Of course. First, acknowledge your limitations, your habits. Smile and accept them. They have a purpose: Your survival both physical and psychological. Nothing wrong with a little pride in who you are. Gives you confidence in the face of life’s many challenges. But you must gradually supplant these self-serving ways with ‘other’ oriented motives. Practicing caring in a variety of ways is the ONLY sure way of diminishing the obstinacy of SELF. Sincerely inquiring about others, about the magnificence of creation all about you … this will release you from ‘I am the center of the world’, ‘me first’ bondage.

You will gradually develop a more open ‘heart’ and a more sharing one. Virtuous behavior will be embraced: Humility, empathy, faith and hope in the triumph of love. You will become aware of an emerging YOU … who acknowledges and ‘follows’ the precepts for growing spiritually. The insignificant, self-serving YOU will be transformed into a gracious, empowering entity receptive to Eternal Love.




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