Think about the people in your life...just take a moment and contemplate anyone who comes to mind, whether they're positive thoughts or negative ones...
Go ahead; think of a few more. The ones who make you want to tear your hair out, the ones you want to see all the time, the ones you avoid like the plague... just briefly think of each one and move on to the next...
Did you get a good sampling? I hope so.
Now, what happened while you were doing that? I'll bet you were thinking about how each one made you feel. You'd remember one and feel all oatmealy (warm and mushy), you'd think of another and feel your blood begin to boil, and there were probably some in between, or even a bit of both.
You were not likely thinking about this or that specific thing that they did with you or for you. As your memory took you from one person to the next, you wouldn't have been thinking about them at all. Chances are, you were just feeling about them. Because that's what's important to us.
When you leave the lives of people with whom you've interacted, whether for three days, two weeks, or by moving, drifting apart, or departing this Earthly existence, first and foremost, you will be remembered for how they felt because of the way you treated them. The specific memories will come next.
The way you treat people will leave an impression, and it is the most important element in any sort of relationship, no matter what that relationship is. It might only be your occasional dealings with a little old lady you see in the village as she's walking her dog. It could be your sister or your neighbour or the grouchy man who runs the post office.
Have you ever been itching to share your favourite places or events with people who didn't really want to go? But you said "Pretty please" or maybe you didn't - but at any rate, they finally agreed to go, and you could tell they hated every minute of it?
Or have you ever been with people who said and did all the right things, perhaps they fed and housed you, or had to drive you to appointments or whatever, but you felt that it was out of obligation and you just knew they didn't really want to do it?
I'm sure that like most people, you can relate to these and other similar situations. And no doubt when you remember those situations, the first thing you do is remember how you felt. It doesn't matter whether those people showed up, attended the event with you, said please and thank you, said it's no trouble at all, or insisted they were happy to help.
The only thing that you're really left with are feelings that aren't very nice.
Words don't always say very much. Imagine this: A man gazes lovingly at his wife while she reads the paper. He reaches over and lays his hand gently on her arm. Softly, he says, "I love you, honey.
She looks up from her paper, turns to him and you can see her face soften into a warm smile as she says, "I love you, too." You might guess how he feels in that moment. What a lucky guy!
Now same scenario again. Husband gazes at wife, loving rests his hand on her arm and says he loves her. She doesn't look up from her paper. She continues reading. There's a noticeable pause and he's not sure she heard him but before he can repeat it, and without looking up from her paper, she says in a tone as flat as a pancake, "Hmm...love you, too."
He's probably not as happy as the other guy.
It's not what you do for people; it's how you do it. It's not what you say; it's how you say it. Is it with a sour attitude? Is it with "I'll get you for this" in your mind? Or is it with a loving heart, and a willingness to bring joy to someone's life?
The size of the gesture is irrelevant. Whether or not it's something huge and expensive and time-consuming, or something very teeny like remembering a favourite little treat.
It is not what you do for someone, or what you say that is important. It is how you do whatever you do, or how you say whatever you say that matters, because that is what will trigger an emotional response in the person on the receiving end of it.
Think about how you would like to be remembered and let this be reflected in all you say and do.
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