“The love we give away is the only love we keep.” (Elbert Hubbard)
Note: This blog series investigates twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD (and other past stress) which has become part of our ethos or basic belief system. November investigates gratitude.
An old man I call friend has survived multiple wives afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease. He told us of his gratitude through the process as his wife and friend of over thirty years slipped away, gratitude for the years shared and for his opportunity to care for her through their ordeal. When I grow up, I want to be so grateful.
Grateful people are happy. At least, that is my observation. Unhappy people are ungrateful.
Generosity seems to be the key to happiness through gratitude.
“Minds, nevertheless, are not conquered by arms, but by love and generosity.” (Baruch Spinoza)
Sometimes, the mind to be conquered is my own. When I feel I need a little love, may I remember the power of generosity to give love away. There lies the way of happiness.
And, happiness, according to some, is the meaning of life. (I will leave it to you to find such quotes. Quests are good for the soul.)
This is just my opinion, of course, but I believe there are two basic views of human existence: #1) our world is dangerous and stuff is scarce; #2) our world is gracious and stuff is abundant. How we live our lives depends upon which view we choose.
Traumatic events tend to nudge or shove us toward view #1, a theme of danger and scarcity. We expect bad things to happen, people to be dangerous, things we need and want to be hard to get. Naturally, we are unhappy and our unhappiness perpetuates our belief.
Funny thing about belief and this self-perpetuating phenomenon. When we approach view #2, a theme of grace and abundance, we notice it in our lives. When we feel fortunate, we believe in abundance. When we accept the grace of generosity, we feel blessed. When we feel loved, we love others.
My old friend has a favorite saying when asked how he is. “Never had it so good.”
That always gives me pause, and I admit (often reluctantly) that the same is true for me. I am blessed. Feeling so, I become a little nicer, more inclined to share love, to give it away freely. It always comes back to me.
Is that all there is to life? If we are generous, we become happy?
Well, there is this little problem of waking with a feeling of dread, and feigning happiness just does not work. So, which comes first, feeling loved or giving love?
That’s your problem. Do a little work to discover your answer. Look to others for advice, if you wish, but look inside yourself, also. Look deep inside. What evidence can you find in your heart?
War and other trauma may scar our brains and hearts, but love leaves tracks there, too.