Our most fruitful field for self-discovery and life-enhancement is also the one we least understand or know how to use. And yet, virtually every moment offers abundant chances to benefit from it. What is this highly valuable field of opportunity? Our relationships.
Consider these truths: It is within relationships that we grow as individuals in everything valuable, because it is through them that we become stronger and wiser, allowing us to realize a love that transcends our unseen self-limiting self-interests. Yet, even though we may acknowledge the existence of this path to self-perfection, the essential mystery of exactly how to use this endless resource remains obscured.
How do we use our relationships to change the balance sheet of our lives so that for every measure of impatience and intolerance there may be at least an equivalent sum of compassion and consideration? And how do we learn to use our relationships with others to realize a new kind of relationship with ourselves so that we can discover the beautiful fact that who we really are is all we need to be?
Our willingness to work our way through the following twelve special practices -- to strive to use these higher ideals in our relationships with others -- will reward us with the Real Life our hearts longs for.
The main purpose of these special practices is to show us how to use each developing moment in our relationships with family, friends, and coworkers to consciously change our relationship with them, and more importantly, with ourselves.
If we are honest we will admit that, with few exceptions, the usual focus of our attention and interactions with others is centered on our selves and the fulfillment of our desires. "How do I feel about you?" "What do I want from him?" or "When will she realize that I know best?" In other words, the mindset of this largely unconscious self, under most circumstances, is: "Me first."
By forever placing its own considerations before considering any other, this self-serving nature remains the master of its own universe, even if all that revolves through it is its own imagined importance.
The great inner life lesson to be learned in working with the following twelve suggested practices is that what we put first in our lives is our first relationship with life. And it is this relationship that secretly determines the nature of all others in our lives.
Through our willingness to work at placing our usual self in "second place," we agree not only to change the way we see our relationships, but we have also agreed to be changed by the truths our new relationships will inevitably show us about us.
Here are the 12 Practices to Enlarge Our Relationship with Life:
All spiritual practices are a means to self-discovery. Everything we discover about ourselves enlarges our relationship with life and there is no end to these relationships, just as Real Life is endless.
Use these 12 practices, and watch your own heart grow larger as your relationships become more compassionate and less troublesome.
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