I have been reflecting on a conversation I recently had with a friend of mine, who suffered the terrible, unthinkable misfortune of losing a child to cancer. This friend endured a massive, life-changing loss, yet they still always seem to be happy and upbeat, despite their misfortune.
I was speaking to him the other week, and I asked him if he ever gets jealous of those who have more wealth than he does. Specifically, I was referring to his younger brother, who has enjoyed quite a bit of success and has become quite wealthy over time.
When I asked my friend if he gets jealous of other’s wealth, my friend responded to me immediately, saying, “No, because I am happy.” He went on to say that because of the tragedy he endured, and the fact that he has less wealth than others in his close circle, people might wrongfully perceive him as being unhappy, but that in fact, those perceptions would be wholly inaccurate.
I asked my friend how he is so happy, and how he is able to maintain such a positive disposition despite what he has gone through. Obviously, he has experienced some very tragic circumstances that could understandably get any person down. My friend responded that firstly, it is a daily choice he makes to embrace positivity and be happy, and that secondly, it is because he spends a great deal of his own time helping others.
This man is my absolute hero! His ability to reframe his own perception of happiness is incredible, and his willingness to perform selfless acts is truly inspiring.
Without a doubt, the greatest form of connection is service; helping– or even just being there for others– without any sort of expectation centered around the outcome.
This connection through service is the basis of our relationship with God. God has no need for us whatsoever, yet he gives to us without any expectation of return, and in this way God’s connection with us is truly unconditional and absolute.
It is a common misconception that our religious obligations are for God, or that they in some way serve as a form of currency for God’s favor. Truthfully, God’s commandments are instructions for how we can live our best lives, and besides, when we veer off the intended path, realistically, we are only hurting ourselves.
In my addiction, I needed substances every time that I acted out of accordance with my moral compass. It was in these moments that I was feeling a sense of disconnection, and so I looked for the drink to ease my anxieties and create the connection for me. Obviously, this did not work, as my sense of disconnection grew, and I became trapped in a vicious cycle. It was only through recovery that I was able to learn the true tenets of connection, and even then, I am always working on improving and learning more as I go. For the most part, I have learned about connection through my own experiences, yet I am always learning more through speaking with others, and so I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts.
How do you create connection with others? For that matter, how do you create connection with yourself? What do you do that makes you happy? And ultimately, how do you define happiness for yourself?
This week, let’s emulate my friend, and do our best to look inward at what we have, as opposed to what we feel we may be lacking in. Let’s aim to create connection through acts of service, use our gifts to give, and be there for others just as we would wish they would be there for us. Finally, let’s emulate God, and give just for the sake of giving– without any expectation of remuneration– just because it is the right thing to do.
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love
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