Seventh Habit: Cherish Others
The purpose of life is to cherish others, ourselves, and the world around us. That’s what we are here to learn. Our ideals, our splendid plans and dreams also need our loving attention. There are so many distractions.
All life is about choices. Moment-by-moment we have the sovereign power to choose where we focus our precious attention. Then our little slice of life starts making sense.
The Dalai Lama—one of the brightest spiritual lights on the planet at this time—has said numerous times, “The purpose of life is to cherish others.” He followed that up by saying, “When I cherish others, they tend to cherish me back. And when they cherish me back, it makes me feel so good inside that I cherish others for purely selfish reasons.” If our heart had a bumper sticker, this would surely be it.
The Dalai Lama is a living example of how our heart is the sovereign ruler of our consciousness, our unique world, while living on Earth. He loves everyone, even the Chinese leaders who had millions of his people killed or tortured. It is easy to love someone who is nice to us. It takes considerably more courage and insight to love someone who treats us badly. But they are our greatest teachers.
There is no injustice. Everyone is exactly where they need to be to learn the precise lessons they are here to learn. But we can fritter away huge portions of our lives choosing to be a victim in one situation or lifetime, which causes us to be a punisher the next. We can be angry with others, worry about them, try to fix them, or any number of other dramas. Or, we can simply love them on the ground they stand on.
Loving Others into Being the Best Version of their Selves
Negative feelings we have about another person creates a wall, a barrier that separates us from them. The negative opinions that follow influence those people toward negative actions. When we simply feel the negative feelings, the wall between them and us dissolves. The barrier ceases to exist. Once the wall dissolves, our heart naturally loves them.
We don’t have to teach our heart how to love any more than we have to teach a three-year old child to play. No matter how traumatized any of us has become, our heart never loses its child-like innocence. It always wants to love others, especially the difficult ones. It's our unruly brain that holds onto hatred, prejudice and slights from others. Every moment our brain is not ruled by our heart, it can easily be our worst enemy.
Forgiving others changes the present moment in a more loving way, which transforms the future. Forgiveness also changes the past. Our memories about the past are not as unchanging or permanent as we think they are.
After we have felt the negative feelings—feelings that cause our brain to generate toxic thoughts and memories about others—our memories change. We begin to notice deeper, more meaningful qualities of that person as they float up to become the most prominent features in our memories.
As our attention focuses on their deeper, more significant qualities, it becomes easier for that person to emulate those qualities. Forgiveness helps them transform into the best version of themselves. And, more importantly, we change. We both transform into the best versions of ourselves. The process of forgiveness rewrites our DNA.
It also allows the other person to rewrite their DNA, and that makes everything change. "No man is an island." We all live in relationship with others and with everything around us. On the deepest levels, all life is about relationships. And love is the glue that holds the entire Universe together.
Staying in the Moment
We squander our life force when we let our brain disproportionately focus on what’s going wrong around us. We come into harmony with all life by wresting our attention back to doing or being what we love. Life has so much more value when we focus our precious attention on the good we want to do. Only then are we making the world a better place.
Every moment we are focusing our precious attention on what we love, our heart gets to provide insights into how to make our world a more loving place. Focusing on what we cherish creates thousands of times more healing to the world than even the most insightful thoughts about—or protests against—what's wrong in the world.
Focusing on what we love and loving what we have brings us into harmony with our spirit, soul, bodymind and the universe. Our face and eyes brighten. Our mind lights up. There is a lightness to our step. We find ourselves humming or singing more. We laugh more.
We are filled with enthusiasm for life. Others can see it in us and hear it in the tone of our voice. Enthusiasm, by the way, comes from the Greek words Theos (God) and ism (condition of). The condition of having God within. I like that.
Anyone can fault find. That's an unconscious default. It's communicating from our poorer self. Cherishing others takes real courage, mindfulness. It also requires life-affirming habits.
The Seven Habits will make every part of your life more interesting. They give you the strength, clarity and power to be authentic, real, unique, a one-of-a-kind original. They take your whole life to master. But they give you back the joy you had as a child doing something for the very first time. You get to live your life in "beginners mind," a lovely viewpoint to adopt.
Spiritual awareness is simply mindfulness, staying in the moment. Peace of mind is the natural by-product. Consider your consciousness to be the peaceful harbor, protected from the outer storms by the power of your habits and understandings. The outer world with all its noise and confusion is mainly an illusion. Your inner world is the real world. And consistently choosing to cherish is the true revolution.