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What is commonly called falling in love is in most cases an intensification of egoic wanting and needing. Thomas Merton is quoted as saying “Love seeks one thing, the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore is its own reward.

I remember a story about a struggling young couple in Victorian England. Each wanted to give the other the perfect Christmas gift. Her crowning glory was her long hair and his source of pride was his gold pocket watch and chain. She cut and sold her hair in order to give him an ornament for his watch chain. He sold his pocket watch and chain in order to buy her a comb to hold and compliment her hair. Each sacrificed the thing they loved most in order to benefit their beloved.

Valentine’s Day gave us an opportunity to give things that represent our affection for those close to us. We may not frequently have the opportunity or need to sacrifice a treasured object for the benefit of a loved one, but we can surrender something even more precious to us, our judgments and desire to change another behavior to better match our image of perfection.

The real sacrifice we can make everyday is releasing our ideas about how someone else should behave in order to make us happy. I don’t need you to be a certain way for the me to be happy. True love is wanting the best for the beloved. That means letting them follow their own star in their own way at their own time. Each of us has been put here to fulfill our unique destiny and that may not include getting the grades a parent desires, putting the cap on the toothpaste, remembering birthdays or cooking like mother did. It does mean looking for opportunities to encourage and praise our family and friends and doing it on a daily basis. Sincere appreciation and genuine compliments are the greatest gifts we can bestow on anyone at any time. The good of the beloved is love’s goal and rewards.

Affirm: I replace my critical eye with the vision of love, finding opportunities to express praise and appreciation always.

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