Today’s discussion on spiritual development: I think we are jars. We come in different sizes and shapes, but jars nonetheless. Each of us has a capacity to be filled and to pour out. Some jars are big and have a tremendous capacity to take in much, as well as pour out much. Unfortunately, some jars are small. At year end, I ask myself how I can make my jar bigger so as to pour out more. I pour out my positive energy and thoughts, my efforts, my goodwill, my inspiration, my love to all those I come in contact. Some of you may wonder about my motivations as to why I write this stuff; it’s just me pouring out what I have in my jar.
My wife and kids are a constant recipient of my pouring which I believe is critical for happiness and well-being. I believe that in trying to create a life that is fulfilling and satisfying I must park my ego at the door and do what I can do to help others become a light in the world. By doing so, I make my jar bigger while at the same time creating an environment where others can make their jars bigger as well. The home is the best place to practice that because of the huge dividends it repays. The work world is challenging because there are so many new opportunities and people to demonstrate the example of creating well-being in the land of short-term constraint, ego and self interest all of which sometimes stresses my capacity to pour out. I must improve on when to use compassion and understanding and when to be firm. Regardless, work provides an opportunity to demonstrate both to myself and others that if I keep pouring myself out, others will follow.
Occasionally, I observe some people whose jars are half empty and it shows in the life they have created. I listen to their thoughts which often sound like victimization. I believe a universal truth is: You are where you are because of who you are. It’s an “apple grows on an apple tree” sort of thing. What’s the difference between half empty and half full? One molecule. And the difference between half full and a cup that overflows? Intention. So for me, Ironmen is a weekly reminder to live with the intention to make my jar bigger so I have more capacity to pour out my love to my family and friends, co-workers, customers, strangers, and basically everyone I come in contact with.
Despite the challenges one may face in the external life, working on one’s jar is an internal process that transcends victimhood, economics, religion, politics, gender, race, sexual orientation, left-handedness, and any other categorical distinctions. It is a human thing. It’s this internal process of being more gracious, more accepting, more loving, more energized, more optimistic, more creative that compounds day after day.
And the result? The results are at once subtle and dramatic. By being a vessel that pours out in a mutually satisfying manner placing the well-being of others coequal to you, the capacity to receive love and well-being is affected. At the absolute minimum, appreciation of others and life is enhanced. But far beyond that, well-being can flourish, …and it does. Healthy relationships create a base for personal growth that leads to seeing opportunities and, importantly, having the capacity to capture them. Interestingly, when times are good, it’s easy to be selfish. When times are tough, that’s when you need to make withdrawals from the relationship account. That’s why it’s important to make deposits in the jars of others all the time.
So what does this have to do with work or the word “As”?
There is no such thing as wearing different hats in life. You don’t wear a work hat, then go home and put on the husband hat or dad hat. There’s no close buddy hat that’s different than the employee hat. Whether you are at home or work or play, there you are. You and your jar are the constant in your life. By living with the intention to have less ego and thereby live in such a way to practice expanding your jar to pour out to others, you are being a catalyst for positive change in the lives of all those you come in contact. You are loving your neighbor AS yourself.
For such a tiny word, “As” is pretty important. Highlighting that importance, I think, is critical to growing one’s jar which leads to the good life. “As” is usually interpreted to mean “to the same extent”. Love your neighbor at least as much as you love yourself. But that would miss the power of the conjunction.
- It also means “While”. Loving your neighbor in the act of loving yourself speaks of the timing of your intentions.
- “As” also means “In the same manner”. Loving your neighbor in such a way that it affects that person positively speaks to the quality of your efforts.
- And importantly, “As” refers to “In the process of”. In the process of loving your neighbor, in reality you are loving yourself because you are working on increasing the size of your jar and thereby increasing the capacity to be loved.
Here’s an important point in all this: If you aren’t loving those at the epicenter of your life, then it’s you – it’s your issue. Somehow your ability to love has been diminished. You need to pour out in order to receive. It is a selfish motivation to pour out love and goodness on people because, not only does it feel good and rebound back to you, but your ability to love will increase over time. You end up seeing the world in a different light. And this isn’t some new age crapola slogan, it actually is true.
So – You can touch the lives of those closest to you, reflect on the role you play in their lives and they in yours, bring forth appreciation of all that you have at hand to make a life worth living, put into perspective what life is all about, gain strength to go forward with the intention to make your time here on earth matter for all those dearest to you AS you pour your life into the coming year.
Get after it. Open up the lid of your jar and start pouring.
To your continued loving success,