About a year ago, a rather sad friend asked me how I got to be where I was. What had I done, to deserve my life? At the time, I was in another paradise, (I’m in one now, but a different one!) – I was living with friends on their organic farm, managing their health retreat programmes, being paid to help people discover a better way of living through fasting, yoga, healthy organic food, and living with more spiritual practises in nature, and less stress.
I was happy, healthy and content. She wasn’t. This is why.
I have been working on my spiritual nature more than anything else, trying to find a deeper space within – a space I can sense but cannot touch yet. In doing this work, I’m (over) analysing all my behaviour and thoughts, seeing a pattern or thread in the way my life flows. For me, the kind of opportunity I had last year to live in Paradise with Frank and AK, stems not from luck but from two habits if I can call them that, two practises which are principles, which I follow as my religion. Openness and Generosity.
Principle 1. Openness. Get Intimate. Be honest with yourself, and with others. Share personal thoughts and intentions/goals with people – Don’t be shy or conservative about how deep you go and with whom. Many people think they can look perfect by keeping silent, but what’s the point of that? Hey, its another human being you could be close to, with problems and emotions and a history, more concerned with their problems than with how you should behave or look – and so relieved to drop pretence!
If what you are sharing is too much for the other person, they’ll tell you. But generally by becoming more trusting with how much YOU share, the relationship automatically becomes more intimate and the other person usually welcomes this.
Most of us spend far too much uncomfortable time in social isolation, hardly talking to collegues, fellow train and bus travellers, neighbours at home. I have learned to be naively open and honest and generous with my story – many people around me know what I am, what I am thinking or planning – and generally it leads to them sharing equally deeply with me. Friends and acquaintances know they can share their story with me and I generate a lot of positive trust in my relationships, through my own trusting openness.
Principle 2. Be generous. Give. Spend your time serving others. Whatever that translates to in your life, stop taking care of yourself first. If you take care of others, you will be taken care of. Its a Universal Law. He said it better: “Love One another as I have Loved You.” and “Love Thy Neighbour as Thy loves Thyself”.
This is how to build strong relationships. People know I have (endless) time for them. It makes a very safe place for my friends to come, when they’re in need and also when they’re happy. I don’t think of time spent on myself is valuable, although I still do a lot of yoga, reading and studying, and I do take good care of myself, but helping someone else gives me much more of a kick than hanging out with the TV or going for a lonely or expensive treat on my own.
Openness and Generosity.
And what is the point of coming out your shell and working with others, getting to know them by letting them know you, helping them and doing things for others? I follow these two principles and I am happy. I believe these principles bring me wonderful friendships, work I love, opportunities to do the most wonderful things, homes in my family and friends’ houses all over the world, and a huge correspondence from people close to me, which I also love. I am always busy, always have someone to speak to, always have a place to go. I generally don’t work for money but I still live in wonderful luxury and am well cared for.
People help me because they know when I need something – rule 1, I’m communicating my story. They are happy to help or be generous, because – Rule 2 – usually I’ve already helped them in some way – and they know I’ll do it again, in a flash, for the sheer pleasure of being able to help. Even just to lend a listening ear.
My other rules for living – if you’re at all interested, I’ve followed them all my life, and they do seem to help me be generally happy. (not always though as you know) –
Rule 1. Always take every opportunity or at the least look at it carefully before rejecting it. Opportunities look so much better when someone else takes them! and they always look incredibly good with hindsight when its too late! Stop missing the generosity of the Universe, be more open to the chances which arise, they are usually set before you at the right time, and you should usually take them. Usually. Obviously, let common sense keep functioning, but don’t always be driven by Fear when making choices!
Go out there and take the richness of Life as its being offered to you. To each one of us! The Mother Goddess, however you picture Her even as your own Mom, or not at all, is always putting out her hands full of Love and what we need. We need to take it!
Rule 2. Don’t ever ever make assumptions. Wisdom from Gus, a close friend who’s life is pretty straightforward and stress free – Don’t assume someone likes you, or that they don’t, or that people know what’s on your mind at all – or that you know what’s on someone else’s mind.
Don’t assume something is true because it was before – especially in regards to people, who change completely and in a minute.
Don’t assume you can’t do something until you try – and even then, someone will usually help you with those things you cannot do if you’ve followed rule 1 and grabbed an opportunity which turns out to be bigger than you or your skills!
Rule 3. Follow the two first principles. Openness and Generosity.
I try as my spiritual practise, to always be happy/kind/generous with the people around me. No matter who they are or why I came to be with them, no matter how odd, difficult or miserable they are, I am open, and generous as much as I can be.
Sometimes I resort to a kind of bribery – I can overload people with help, service, or even presents if I can find their soft spots and spoil them. It doesn’t always work but my nightmare is people who don’t like me, (OK, so that’s not very spiritual, to have a fear of not being liked, but we have to have Some kind of Motivation, and that’s mine!!) so I am always trying to make people become friends (there are a few exceptions but generally that’s when I haven’t had chance to really try this with them). Contrary to popular thinking, I believe we cannot spoil anyone too much. While they may not thank me for anything, I know I am creating very positive energy.
I talk to them about their smelly but much loved cat, feed them choc chip yogurt salad if that’s what they like, ask after their mom or listen to them dump about their boss, notice their new green spotty socks or the wonderful formatting on the report they’ve taken 2 months to deliver. I even listen to their criticism of me if it makes them feel better, even when I don’t agree at all. Accepting them, gently supporting
Also, when I’m disappointed or angry with someone, I try to remember that behavior , that they did something they should not have, doesn’t matter longer term. It is only behavior and can be changed,
what’s past is past anyway.
What really matters is ONLY how they feel about me, I believe close and friendly relationships make Life go around (in fact, they ARE Life – who cares about your fish, or your money, or your fancy job when you die?). A closed insular selfish life is bad for health, mind and soul. Sharing love is even good management technique – you can get more out of other people. It may sound worldly and selfish or egotistical even – but if we don’t pander to other’s Ego’s, we never have to subsume our own.
Being generous in Spirit is Karma Yoga actually – a form of Spiritual practise where you spend your time doing Service to Others – completely spoil others with your time and attention, not keeping anything back for any reason. Things, good things, will manifest in your life.
Do the rules work?
I don’t force my behavior and its not about doing this to get points if it seems that way – I just realised recently that not everyone does these automatically as I do, and thought it might be helpful to share the “code” – it seems many people cannot be as open as I am to new opportunities and people, to the possibility of serving or helping or even just listening to another. For many reasons.
Why change? I like being open and generous. My world turns pretty quickly – things happen, projects happen, people get together – because I know what makes my friends tick and what turns them on, and what they want to do most of all because they felt safe telling me. With that information, I can often help make (larger ) things happen around me – I help people get together for romances, business opportunities, social events, work, living a better life, doing more yoga or whatever it is that turns them on. It works for me too, I organised this Portugal summer job in a divine Casa called Agolada, where I’ll be gardening, cooking, doing yoga and relaxing for the summer, because I was kind to someone once, and took care of them! As I get better at being aware of my actions and thoughts, I’m more consciously manifesting the life I want by practising these ‘rules’ in all my relationships.
You too can reach out and take the happiness being offered, you know how to be Open, and we all know how to be Generous. Don’t be conscious of needing time to start practising, don’t think about who you will be kind and open to – just Do It.
You have to consider ALL opportunities and remove ALL assumptions and be Generous in Spirit and Time and Self to ALL people.
Let me know how it goes!