With my spiritual perspective that we connect more with God by connecting more with each other, how do we achieve that goal? First, by giving more to others; and second, by making the act of giving a daily, key habit. As a starting point, you should know that habits are not easy to develop. They take consistent effort and time. Do you remember the story of the early NASA astronauts and their convex goggles? The scientists were worried about spatial disorientation for the astronauts and the subsequent difficulties with blood pressure and pulse, plus the increased difficulties with just completing regular tasks. So, for one month, each astronaut had to wear those convex goggles where the floor became the ceiling and the ceiling became the floor. Staring out through the goggles, the astronauts had to walk across the ceiling, but navigate the furniture on the floor.
The result of that experiment? A surprise. Around day 26-30, the world flipped right side up. The floor became the floor; and the ceiling became the ceiling. The mind was able to correct the upside down vision, integrate it into the normal cognitive process, and make seeing “straight” a normal habit. However, if the astronaut removed the goggles during the experiment for a break, the change did not habit – until 26-30 days from that break. What does that tell you? That you cannot view the habit of giving as something akin to your once-a-week day at your church or temple or synagogue. Instead, it has to be daily (or almost daily) with a level of consistency. If you can achieve that goal, and if giving can become a habit, it becomes easy – like staring through the convex goggles and still seeing the world correctly aligned.
You also cannot expect results right away. Remember the story of the Chinese bamboo tree. The Chinese farmer plants the tree, tends to the water and soil, and waits. The first year? The tree grows a couple of inches. The second, third, fourth, and fifth years? The tree again grows only a few inches. However, in the sixth year, the Chinese bamboo tree can grow 80 feet in six weeks. That is the same for giving to others and the growth of your spirituality. It does not happen overnight, but when it happens, there can be an exponential personal growth. So, as you start to develop the habit of giving, remember the Chinese bamboo tree and the 80:20 rule. 80% of your growth will come from the last 20% of your effort. So, your real connection with people will come with your last bit of effort. Make that extra effort.
So, where you should start? How about at home? Our American statistics are not so reassuring. The average American husband spends 4-30 minutes per day talking 1:1 with his wife; and the average American father spends 1-20 minutes per day talking 1:1 with the child (or each child). You wonder why our country still has a high divorce rate of around 50%? We do not spend enough time with each other. We get caught up in the other demands of work and life – whether it’s putting in time at the office or scrambling through errands to raise a family. As the saying goes, we let the things that matter the most (the people we love) be at the mercy of things that matter the least. That must change. We must redesign our lives with new insight and improved priorities.
Do you know the story of how they trap Rhesus monkeys in Indonesia? They cut out the top of a coconut; they scoop out the interior; and then they stake the coconut to the jungle floor, filling the coconut with goodies (tasty items). The monkey comes along, reaches its hand through the narrow opening at the top of the coconut, and grabs a fist of those goodies. But with the hand now shaped as a fist, the fist cannot squeeze back through the narrow opening. You know what happens? The monkey refuses to let go of the goodies. It stands there until the natives return and capture it. Freedom was there for the taking. The monkey just gave it away. Humans are the same. We are hold onto goodies when we should let go. We all let ourselves be trapped into the wrong behaviors and the wrong arena.
So, how do we better connect with each other? Simple. We connect with each other by making each other (and our behavior of each other) a higher priority. And it should be a high priority. Look what is happening throughout our world. Almost every week we have some calamity. Someone loses it and starts shooting at someone. Is there a common characteristic for many of these people? Most of them are disconnected from others (and from society); and if they become disconnected, they lose their footing. They lose their direction. Life loses its meaning. They simply want to make others feel like they feel – dead. So, think of the benefit of giving in terms of how much better you will feel, but also think of the benefit of giving in terms of how much it will help others. Start at home and progress outward to everyone.
Let me end this blog with a request. Watch “The Power of Words” on YouTube. Copy and paste the following: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=Hzgzim5m7oU&vq=medium At the end of the video there is a saying, “Change your words. Change your world.” Well, I think giving and spirituality are much the same. If you can start giving, make better connections with others, and improve your spirituality, life becomes significantly better – far more meaningful. Riches (emotional riches) will flow your way. How do you make those connections? Eliminate the things that do not matter as much. Make other people a priority. Then let giving become a habit. Which specific things do you need to do? You do not need to read Confucius. Just follow your heart. Or as Nike says, “Just do it!”