Have I ever mentioned that my grandchildren live a few houses away from us? It is truly a blessing. As we were walking earlier this week, our 3 1/2 year old grandson ran out of his front door (as mom watched) to greet us and let us know that he wanted to walk with us. A few steps into our journey, he asked if he could come back to our house. I asked, “Why do you want to come to our house?”
“Because I love you,” he replied.
After pulling myself together from where I had melted right there on the sidewalk, I wondered, how does a three-year-old learn such things? On one level, it makes sense: he loves us, why wouldn’t he want to come over? However, when you consider the list of reasons a little boy wants to do anything, would you expect that “love” would be at the top of the list?
The 3 year old’s list might be:
- I want to read books.
- I want to play “knights”
- I want to watch a movie
- I want to eat treats
- I want to run around in the backyard
- I want to look for worms in the garden
I did not expect “Because I love you.” Again I asked, how does a young child learn such things? The answer was clear as I realized that he lives in a place where:
- He hears them
- He sees them
- He lives them
That little boy is a sponge. He is absorbing everything around him. Good or bad, exciting or scary, attentive or ignoring, giving or taking, loving or indifferent. As he absorbs, so he projects. He knows love. He knows what it looks like, what it sounds like, and what it feels like. With that kind of foundation, he can build an amazing life. From that start, he already knows what it means to be successful.
Think about it, everyone around us is receiving what we project. They experience what we give, what we don’t give, and what we take.
What awesome power.
You are helping to form those around you by simply existing. In being who you are, you’re shaping everyone who comes into contact with you. What a staggering responsibility.
The profound innocence of little children makes such an example easy to see and provides the inspiring warm fuzzies of heartfelt emotion. What about everyone else? The challenging teen? The annoying neighbor? The dramatic mother-in-law, the struggling co-worker, or the son who refuses to grow up? Or, the average person on the street? Projecting positive energy, love, and encouragement are a lot easier when we are getting even more in return.
Let’s face it, most of us are more willing to project positive energy into an unknown vacuum than into the known of a painful person who annoys us every day. Yet, the awesome power to project good and the staggering responsibility of it remain.
You are a transmitter and you are on every time you interact with another human being. Your facial expressions, energy, words, and actions are being cast upon the world around you persistently and the human beings within that world are absorbing all of it. What are you telling them about yourself? What are you telling them about themselves? What are you telling them about the world they live in?
Recently, a professional acquaintance commented to me that he appreciates my posts. I’m always a little surprised to receive such comments as they usually come from people who I little suspect notice anything I might be sharing. He went on to say that he appreciates what I write because he doesn’t feel like I’m trying to sell him anything.
Translation: “I’m used to getting hammered by asks and click-bait from those claiming to want to build a “relationship” only to discover the pitch behind the facade.” We are inundated with the transactional and the message is “you have value to the extent that I get something I want from you.” Then, we respond in kind.
We all do this. In one way or another, almost all of us make a living by asking others to buy what we’re selling. After a time, our transactional attitude can become a really bad habit. When we reduce the value of the individual to the benefit we receive from them, we create an empty place in our own humanity. And theirs.
I’m not saying we need “meaningful” relationships with everyone we meet nor I am saying that transactional interactions are “bad” in themselves.
My point is this: YOU are affecting everyone around you in one way or another. YOU are helping to shape the kind of person they are becoming and how they view the world. YOU have a responsibility to use that power for good. And finally, WE can all do better.
Would you like a pleasant surprise from those around you? Surprise them first. Would you like to be loved by those with whom you interact? Love them first. Would you like to see those around you doing good, being good, and living good? Do good, be good, and live good first.
After we’ve emptied ourselves of our posturing and machinations, given all of the love we can muster, and offered the last ounce of our very best, then we might begin to see it reflected in the world around us. Here, we might finally walk into the world to find the very good for which we’ve always hoped and when we ask “why?” hear the response: “Because I love you.”