I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.
WALTER WHITMAN (1819 – 1892), American poet, essayist and journalist; among the most influential poets in the American canon, and often called the father of free verse.
There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.
VINCENT WILLEM VAN GOGH (1853 – 1890), Dutch Post-Impressionist painter, one of the most famous and influential figures in Western art history.
Have you ever found yourself at work or in your personal life stuck with someone you just can’t come around to liking, and whose behavior you find impossible to approve? In these situations, it is not hard to feel some sort of hatred. But what would happen if hate were not an option?
Please set aside your spiritual beliefs for a moment. I’m going to draw an analogy from Christian tradition that might help us deal with these situations. Bear with me. According to tradition, god can only love. Hate is not an option. Now, given all the evil humans are capable of, it must be hard to always love and never hate.
So how does god manage it? Well, the tradition makes a few distinctions. It says that you can disapprove of a situation without hating the person. It says you can be hard on the behavior and soft with the person. It says we can dislike someone and still wish the best for them.
The tradition states that we have a choice. That we can choose to accept that even when we dislike someone, other people do like them. That we can choose to condemn the behavior but not the person. That we can love even when we don’t like.
This may seem a too big of an ask, one that only the gods are capable of. But it is not so. As a priest and throughout the years I’ve seen it happen, even in very extreme situations, situations of betrayal, of sexual abuse, and even of homicide. Perhaps we are not too far from the heavens when we recognize that hate is really not an option.
Scene from the movie “The Little Prince” (Netflix)
-A scene from the animated movie “The Little Prince(Netflix)-
[The fox said] “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
“It is the time I have wasted for my rose,” said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.
In “The Little Prince” by ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY (1900 – 1944), French writer, poet, aristocrat, journalist and pioneering aviator.
“Why not whip the teacher when the student misbehaves?”
DIOGENES THE CYNIC (412 or 404 – 323 BCE), Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy.
“Don’t put the bags on the bed. They have germs,” she said. The couple had just returned home from the mall. “I don’t get it,” he said, “the dogs spend the day running around in the garden and then they sleep on the bed. But the bags…?!”
Most computers run a single operating system. Most computers have bugs. Human brains run on three operating systems: reason, emotion, and instinct. Is it too big a surprise that we have bugs?
To nurture relationships in all areas of life we will want to embrace the occasional bug in people’s behaviour.
Don’t look for reason in what is emotional.
Every Wednesday evening two friends, Alex and Florian, and I meet for our stammtisch, a German tradition where friends regularly get together to hang out and drink. We do it via Zoom and we’ve been at it for months. We sometimes have a guest, and we always end up having interesting conversations. Last week’s topic was — you guessed it — big-heartedness.
In good philosophical tradition, we started by defining what we consider to be a big heart:
Big hearts have an irresistible passion to serve others regardless of their status, without expecting any reward.
Then we asked ourselves whether people are born with a big heart. Though genes may play a role, we had no doubt that life is the great creator of big hearts.
We are not born with a big heart. We grow into it.
The next step was then to explore factors that make us grow into big hearts and to identify what is it about these factors that help the heart grow. This is what we uncovered:
- Role models with big hearts
- Environments of friendship
- Experiences of service
- Downfalls in life that we breakthrough
The final question we addressed was whether there is a point in life after which we can no longer grow the heart. We searched our “big heart database” and concluded that, provided the above factors, it is never too late.
There is no deadline to grow our heart.
So where are you on your big heart journey?
Can you identify your big heart role models and environments?
What experiences and breakthroughs have helped you grow into a bigger heart?
Join the LinkedIn conversation here.
Loved in the inflexibility of my ideas,
Loved in the unlikelihood of my wildest dreams,
And loved in the repetition of my everyday stupidities?
Loved in the glare of my greatness,
Loved in the impoliteness of my impulses,
And loved in the scars of my fuckups?
Loved in the sweat of my sacrifices,
Loved in the song of my pathetic moments,
And loved in the smell of my self-judgment?
With whom do I feel deeply loved?