Phew, last month’s challenge – to be more loving – was an all-encompassing one, and I’m still not sure whether I am ready to evaluate how I did. It’s kinda hard to be objective on this one – but I am nevertheless gonna give it a try.
During the month of July, I set myself to become a more loving person. To make this challenge a bit more tangible, I wrote down a list of points I wanted to focus on. Here they are:
Ways to be More Loving
- Smile more to people;
- Reach out to other people more often;
- Have positive conversations;
- Make more loving gestures to my husband;
- Be more considerate;
- Improve my listening skills;
- Be more forgiving towards myself and others.
So how did I do? Perhaps you should ask the people around me how I did rather than myself, but I can at least give you my own assessment. (Those around me are welcome to write their opinion in the comments!) Let’s start with the positive!
Be More Loving: What Went Well
I think I did quite well in the positive conversations point. In fact, I tried to be more positive (and leave out negative comments and criticism) in general, and it did make a difference in how I felt and the atmosphere in general. I think the Buddhist practice to “say what is true” and “say what is pleasant” (and not say what is true but unpleasant, or say what is pleasant but untrue) has some wisdom to it. We cannot always avoid negative conversations, but oftentimes there is no real need to express criticism – and it is so much more pleasant to be around someone who talks positively.
The second point I succeeded in – at least in my opinion – was to make more loving gestures to Ahmed. I tried to bite my tongue every time something snappy was going to come out, I tried to stop nagging and not have any expectations, I tried to make his favorite meals as much as possible and improve my communication skills. While there is always room for improvement, I was quite impressed with myself!
Lastly, I think I was more forgiving or compassionate, if you like, towards myself as well as other people. I tried to be less strict with myself (and my self-imposed to-do lists!), cut myself and others some slack, and go with the flow. It really made me a more relaxed person, while I still got almost the same amount of things done as when I stress myself out. Funny, isn’t it?
Be More Loving: Areas To Improve On
Regarding the other points, I think I could have done much more. I didn’t smile as much to people as I would have liked to, I could have reached out to people more, and I struggle to be considerate, especially when it comes to buying gifts, sending birthday cards, or bringing something when I visit a friend. My listening skills could be better as well, and this is something I would actually really like to focus on.
Generally speaking, I noticed how a few small things could have an immense impact on my mood and communication with others, and I was certain to keep practicing these after I ended the challenge. However, the sad truth was that as soon as I loosened my focus (because of my new challenge or for whatever reason) I started falling back in some old habits again, like snapping, uttering criticisms or being tight with myself and others. As I already realized before I had even started the challenge, being a more loving person is a life-long project. I will probably never be as compassionate as I would like to be. But spending a month focusing on these things did give me a taste of how life improves once you become a more loving person, and it has encouraged me to keep trying to be a better person.
P.S. Photos are from our holiday in Gold Coast, Australia, last month. I will soon post some more photos of this trip!