You Can Only Love After Being Loved

“You cannot be what you cannot see.” I don’t totally agree. Sure, it’s easier to become something that you can see or have experienced before, but I think you can create something that you haven’t seen, you can create a career path, or a passion project, or a way of thinking. Some people are wired that way. They are not limited by what is and can conceive of what previously has not been possible.

But, when it comes to love and generosity we cannot express what we have not received. If you have never been fully loved, or if you have never been on the receiving end of an act of generosity, you will not be able to love from a healthy place, or to be generous. Not fully anyway. You might be able to manufacture something that looks like it but it will be a poor imitation and will not last the test of time.

Maybe that is why some people in your life don’t seem to be able to express love or gratitude in a way that you think they should. Your love and generosity towards them could be the thing they need so they can learn it and then begin to act it out.

It Looks Beautiful, But It’s Dead

You probably know it as the place where the human body floats, but nothing can survive in it, which is why they call it what they do. Yep, the Dead Sea has neither fish nor vegetation. It is a ‘wasteland’ of water because it has too much salt, meaning that people float in it.

Compare it to the Sea of Galilee, just to the north, which is full of abundance. It is teeming with fish and rich, colourful plant life, which is weird because both bodies of water come from the same source, the River Jordan.

So, why the difference between the two?

It turns out that the Dead Sea is dead because it is stingy, and the Sea of Galilee is full of life because it is generous.

Generous because the Sea of Galilee takes in water from the River Jordan, and then it flows out. The constant movement of receiving and then giving brings abundant life to it and everything thrives.

The Dead Sea does not do that. It has no outlet for water to be distributed. It just takes in water, and the only way water disappears is through evaporation leaving the salt behind, which is toxic to fish and plants, making it a people-floating place of non-life. Mind you, it looks beautiful but it’s dead.

We are like bodies of water (heck, aren’t we made up mostly of water?). If we continue to take in more and more in life without a way to pass it on and be generous, we become toxic, and life disappears. (It may look beautiful but it’s dead.)

To bring life and colour and fullness, when we receive what is available to us (be that money, love, respect or knowledge) we must find as many outlets as possible to give it away again.

Life is about giving. The more you give, the more life it brings, to you and the people you give to.

No fear in love

There’s an old saying that love ‘keeps no records of wrongdoing’.

I find it comforting to know that mistakes that I have made won’t be used against me in the future. That in a healthy relationship, through a process of owning up, seeking forgiveness, and restoring trust, mistakes and failures can be let go.

Love chooses to forget the times we stuffed up and remember the times we nailed it. It thinks that the times we managed to support, encourage, be present for and take care of others, is more important to focus on that the times when we didn’t do that.

James Clear would put it like this, ‘praise the good, ignore the bad’.

I like that kind of love. It is outrageously generous.

But I don’t always see, experience, or show that kind of love. I can remember times, pretty clearly, when someone didn’t meet my expectations of love, and also many times when I didn’t meet my own expectations of what love looks like to them.

The opposite of love is fear. When I act in a way that directly contradicts what love is, I know that I am no longer acting in love, but in fear.

Fear does keep records of wrongdoing. Fear remembers them, keeps track of them and then drags them up to use as a weapon any time it feels threatened.

Fear destroys relationships. It is outrageously stingy.

To move away from fear and towards love means acknowledging the fear, perhaps even unpacking it, and choosing to put it aside so that you can experience all that love has to offer.

Why We Love Sport (But Don’t Have To…)

I think I’ve figured it out. The mystery behind why we Australians, like sport so much. And it all comes down to this…

Bad news impacts us much more than good news.

Now, stick with me for a second.

Hans Rosling, author of Factfulness, talks about how humanity has instilled within it the Fear Instinct, which seeks out news or threats to our lives from things which we should be afraid of. Historically, these things have been impending disaster or tragedy. Things that we should fear, so that we stay alive.

So, as a result the news each day is filled with stories that cause fear and sadness because that resonates with our fear instinct. In the history of the world, we have never been better at finding the bad news anywhere in our world and immediately broadcasting it to everyone, than we are now. We are more informed today than at any other time about the bad things that happen, but statistically the world has never been less violent and more safe.

What does that have to do with sport?

By the time that Sport gets mentioned on the news on TV, or our news feed, or we scroll down the news webpage to the sport section, we are so desperate for something positive and to feel good about the world we latch onto sport. And when our team wins it pulls us out of our depressed pit we have been living in for 45 minutes and takes us to a place of euphoria (by comparison). We chase that feeling as it becomes the antidote to the horrors in our world.

This is not just an Australian phenomenon. It is global. We think we love our sport in Australia but have you ever been to a sporting event in another country – we are all as crazy as each other.

Really, it just comes down to us understanding and managing our emotions. The world is not all bad with the only shining light being sport. There are so many good things happening for us to feel positive outside of our favourite team having a good game/match/innings/set/season/pre-season/draft.

Plus, sport is a fools antidote, because eventually our team loses and we are back to being depressed, until next week when they are ‘sure to win again’. It’s a never ending cycle. If we can recognise that, yes, there are bad things in the world, injustices and tragedies, but we are in a much better position that we have been for decades, and we don’t need sport to cheer us up. Feel free to start here.

Can’t Buy Me Love…But Maybe Happiness

We are discovering that money, whilst it can’t buy long term happiness, can in fact buy short term happiness (happiness blips), if we spend it on the right thing. Things like the right experience which can create a memory that last a lifetime, rather than a physical thing that depreciates and collects dust over a lifetime. Also, spending money on specific brands – you know, the ones that go out of their way to create a relationship with you which build a customer loyalty bordering on the fanatical. Or on those larger purchases that we have been dreaming of for a long time – big screen TV, or the furniture we have been waiting so long for. These can all create some form of happiness.

But, to get the best form of happiness from money, and to discover the key to a meaningful life, is to spend money on someone else. Studies have suggested this for a while, that we can find happiness in a generous act, and that as our incomes increase the levels of happiness we experience do not correlate. Meaning that our level of happiness does not increase at the same rate as our level of income – there is a certain point when our income level has no impact on how happy we. Perhaps that is because we are not spending our money on things that will create happiness, or perhaps it’s what Dave Ramsay suggests,

“Money won’t make you happy. Money just makes you more of what you already are”.

To find happiness and real purpose with our money is to spend it on someone else, donate it to charity or otherwise give it away. This will dramatically increases our level of happiness. Doing it once might make you happy for a day, but making it a lifelong habit can make a lasting difference in your life, and the lives of others.