When you really want something, give it away.
I know it doesn't make sense upon first read. Why would I give away something I'm looking to get more of? Furthermore, how can I give something away if I feel like I don't have it in the first place?
Most of us are running around at a pace that wasn't even possible a couple of years ago. With smartphones and tablets and laptops in every corner of our workplaces and dwellings, it takes a solid and active effort to disconnect, and with so much activity fueled by all of that connection, it's easy to find ourselves irritable at one or more points during the day. Most of the time, when I'm walking around the grocery store after work or taking the dog out, my mind is in another place, and usually when I'm distracted, aloof and annoyed, I'm doing the opposite of what I need to do in order to attract what I really need, which is a lot of love and a big, giant hug.
But then I've noticed this: when I'm cheerful and awake, focused and present, everyone treats me the way I treat them: with kindness, compassion and affection. Shockingly, those same people are far less inclined to receive me this way when I'm distracted, frustrated and short-tempered. So then it dawned on me: if what I need when I'm frustrated is someone to focus on me, I'd probably benefit from focusing on them first. That revelation sparked this one:
When I really want something, I have to be willing and able to give it away first.
Take an argument, for example. When what may start of as playful escalates into something less than friendly, it's easy to start getting so invested in needing the other person to see things from your side that you forget to try to see things from theirs. Most of us want our voices heard, so when we hear someone else out first, we're much more likely to get what we''re asking for because we're embodying it in the first place. When I'm at odds with someone else, I try to ask myself what it is I want from the other person, and then give it to them. Like magic, I end up getting what I need, too. It works. Every time.
But how do we give away something we don't have? What about the times when we're looking for patience but just got home from being stuck in traffic for an hour? What happens when we're looking for water because our well is dry? Writing from experience, I can say I didn't stumble across my magical secret of giving something I want away in order to receive it by reading about it. In my experience, these are a few things that work for me when my tank is 0 miles to empty:
1. Let the other person know. Make sure whoever you're interacting with knows you've had a long day, and that any frustration you're experiencing isn't about them. If you can't stay the whole hour you promised you would, let the person know you're tired upfront so you feel comfortable leaving early and you're not yanking your hair out later.
2. Act as if. I can't tell you how many times I have been pushing through a day that started with me waking up on the wrong side of the bed, acted like I was full of joy and got a whole bundle back in return. There's a difference between lacking authenticity and actively embodying what you'd like to feel like. Next time skies are grey, act like they're blue and watch the magic happen. Usually, they'll really seem blue in no time.
3. Don't let your tank get below 1/4. My mom always told me never to let my gas tank get below a quarter-full, but of course I'm usually pulling into the station about 20 miles into my gas light being on. When it comes to life outside of my car, I try not to let my tank get so empty in the first place when I can avoid it. Make "me time" a non-negotiable appointment on your calendar and stick to it. By proactively taking care of yourself, you can avoid a lot of tragedies all together.
I didn't make a right turn into oncoming traffic yesterday, and the guy who cut in front of me after honking at me for 10 seconds shot me the bird and kept it up for about five minutes while I could still see him. A lot of us are running around angry and hot-tempered already, and I've found that the best way to keep the expletives to a minimum is to start with doing my part. When I treat the world how I'd like to be treated, I usually get the same in return. Not necessarily because others treat me with the same kindness, but because as I share it, it radiates from within. The gift, ultimately, is not in what I wind up receiving, but in the way I feel when I give all the goodness away. For whatever reason, love works that way: I don't have any less of it when I share mine with someone else.