The Gentle Qualities
We need not be weak or naive to maintain the good and happy qualities we are born with. These things are sweet in untried children and powerful in adults who have refused to relinquish them despite exposure to the harsher aspects of life. To reach the end of life with genuineness and tenderness intact after all the difficulties and troubles have been endured is a great accomplishment. To leave this life having increased such qualities in oneself and others rather than having diminished them is to have helped set right the disharmony of the world, bettering all of humanity. To set right, to balance, to harmonize is a great purpose and responsibility incumbent upon us all. Therefore, that part of you and any other individual which is joyful, loving, gentle, and open must be defended, nurtured, and encouraged. Loss of the ability to trust, experience happiness, be kind, and be good to oneself and others represents threat or damage to the health of the human core.
One who seems to enjoy the suffering of others is out of balance and in a state of disharmony. A person in good health, both emotionally and physically, and feeling no threat, has no need or desire to inflict suffering. A desire to deliver pain or injury to another springs from some kind of existing suffering in the one wishing to deliver it. The inflictor has to be afflicted first, before it can be passed on to someone else. The desire to cause harm to another generally arises out of either a misguided attempt to relieve suffering by passing it off onto to someone or something else or the attempt to enact an unethical self-defense by causing someone else to be the sufferer instead. Those who truly are born without a fully functioning emotional response system suffer from their lack of ability to feel. Great care should be taken to identify and help them early, in a non-abusive manner, so as to avoid having them become a danger to themselves and others.
Trying to save ourselves from strife by shutting out life, other people, and emotional experience either by attacking others or by isolating ourselves throws us out of balance, because it closes us off from the very things that make us stable and protect us where and when we are vulnerable. On the one hand, hiding in isolation can result in awkwardness and, eventually, bitterness, making contact with others increasingly difficult and painful. On the other hand, your own emotional turmoil will not actually be lifted from you by making another experience turmoil any more than the bruising of another's eye will cause the bruise on your own eye to fade. All that is accomplished is that there are more bruises in the world, and your own eye will still ache. This is vastly different from the legitimate sharing of sorrows when people find comfort in telling each other of their hard times and expressing sympathy for each other.
To prevent passing on your pain and injury to others, either by accident or by design, you must face your suffering in one or more of three ways: by ethically defeating its cause; by finding peace with it, as with accepting and rising to the challenge of living with something difficult; and/or by casting it off, as with forgiveness. Another way of avoiding passing on suffering is to refuse delivery of it to you in the first place by means of appropriate defense and a balanced approach to the ups and downs of life, including encounters with others seeking to unload their anguish. The steps of proper and necessary self-defense are different from dumping toxic emotion and physical distress into another in an attempt to mitigate your own or trade in your victimization in favor of someone else's. Humor that is free of cruelty is a great aid and a beautiful reliever of stress. When all else fails, at least try to replace any notions of lashing out with a distinct effort and determination to be kind.
Those who are unhappy have reasons for their sorrow, anger, or fear and should never be made to feel guilty or ashamed for their feelings. To feel hurt when assailed is a natural human response, whether the assailant is simply an unpleasant or awful circumstance of life or an intentionally cruel bully. While we may not wish to let our own hurt feelings cause distress to others, we can still have compassion for those whose ill feelings are not hidden from us, even if they express themselves in ways we do not enjoy. While taking care of our own well-being, we can attempt, as best we are able, to offer a soothing balm to those in need.
Well and relaxed people are a pleasure to be around and interact with. To be such a person is a service to others, creating safe conditions and a healing influence for those experiencing struggles of their own. Where healthy, happy people are gathered, they resonate together, building a powerful atmosphere in which happiness is compounded. To experience this at its best and strongest is an incredible and inspiring experience, especially for those unused to it. Some too unfamiliar with it may find themselves overwhelmed or disbelieving. But those able to open to and bask in it will find great joy and can even be transformed. Return to ordinary experience afterward must sometimes be handled with care so that the contrast is not a jolt and the benefit is not lost. Life continues on after such wonderful times as the rich, complicated, varied experience it has always been. But the more we resonate together when we are glad and support each other when we are distressed, the better we will weather the hard times, the more we will appreciate the good times, the more joy we will find even in the midst of pain and sorrow, and the stronger, healthier, and more generally positive we will be as we go.
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