I just read a story from Chicken Soup for the Cat & Dog Lover's Soul, by Marty Becker, D.V.M. While enjoying reading it, it occurred to me that there is more than one way to look at what this man was sharing.
In his story "15 Minutes of Fame," he speaks to how enthusiastic pets are when their owners return. It made me wonder if there was something to be gained by his observation that would be beneficial to how we react to people in our lives.
He discussed being away, and when he returned, his kids and wife weren't around to greet him, but his dogs were. I almost thought he (given what he was saying, and being unaware of the context of the story) that he was going to say that he decided to approach his family enthusiastically when he got home.
However, he didn't. He wrote of relishing that "15 minutes of fame" that came from the love of his two dogs.
I don't know how it is in your neck of the woods. I haven't a clue about your life, and your family. However, it occurs to me that if we were to learn a lesson from these pets, we might find ourselves more enriched for it.
By showering affection on their owners, the owners in appreciation, give it right back. I have heard many speak of the unconditional love of their pets.
I have noticed in speaking with people as a coach, that many people enjoy being paid attention to. Now you really don't have to be a coach to figure that out, however, it is in that environment that the absence of it is voiced.
I believe that there are many more people than anyone would ever realize or consider that act like everything is OK, when in actuality there is an unfulfilled need. And this unfulfilled need eats away at them.
Are the people in our lives responsible for us or our well-being? In the purest sense, no. However, we are living in a world of people, so wouldn't it make sense that when others are nurtured, we also are? Maybe by being nurturing, we ourselves are nurtured. Maybe by paying attention to others, we are being paid attention to. Maybe what we do has nothing to do with those that we do this for (as true peace and well being does come from within), but rather we do it for ourselves?
Have you ever noticed yourself holding back something because you haven't gotten what you wanted from the person you are holding back from? Interestingly, in some cases, you would find that by acting in the way you wanted to, by extending yourself, by acting without conditions attached, you would get what you needed.
I was taught through words and actions of those around me that life was to be lived with conditions. I was taught that if so-in-so didn't do such-in-such, he didn't care about me. I only wish it was that simple! Unfortunately, it is not.
Sometimes people just have a bad day. Sometimes they just don't think. Sometimes they just don't realize what they're doing, and how it can affect me. Maybe they're thinking too much of themselves, to even consider how I will take it. Maybe they just don't care. And maybe they care, but they just don't know what else they can do, or how to do things differently.
The point in this is that the only person I can count on, and focus on is myself. Even if I seem to be having a bad day, I can still smile at a stranger. If I find myself acting carelessly, I can take an extra minute, and do something nice for someone else. If I find myself caught up in my own thoughts, I can take a moment to ask someone else about theirs.
It may look like I am caring about the other person, but in the end I do it to benefit me. I don't know about you, but being locked up with my thoughts is often times not a good thing.
The "bonus" about this perspective is that while I am busy taking care of myself, I AM caring for the other person, and since this other person likes to be taken care of, she or he will likely do something back that will take care of me. Because of that, there is the potential that I could actually get taken care of twice! And, btw, if the person doesn't do anything back it is fine, as I have already felt better by taking the steps that I took.
Isn't it unusual to think that being "selfish" can be a good thing?
I would say so.
And I'd also say that, once again, it depends on your perspective.