Put Your Best Foot Forward
How Good Manners Enhance your professional and personal life.
“If you are more fortunate than others, it is better to build a longer table than a taller fence.”-Unknown
Table Leg 3: LOVE
February is the month of love. The traditional Valentine’s Day is celebrated. My Mother’s birthday is Valentine’s Day—Happy Birthday, Mother! For those of us in agriculture, we look to this month when the soil begins to unthaw (in the cold states at least) and we begin to dream of planting again.
Table Leg 3 is LOVE.
To review: the four legs of the table symbolize the four tenants of good manners. The surface of the table represents the one force driving all of human behavior.
The four legs of the table are Trust, Respect, Love, and Honor. It takes all four legs of the table to live a principled, well-mannered life. If one of the “legs” is missing or lacking, then our persona will be off-balance, just as a four-legged table with only three legs would be unbalanced.
Love: Instance of affection, an act of kindness, devotion towards persons/place/things, feeling of attachment, authenticity, genuineness.
Being able to feel safe with other people may be the single most important aspect of mental health and well-being. Safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.
Once we feel safe with someone, we then want and need to feel understood by the other person. This feeling of reciprocity—of truly being heard and accepted by someone else—results in feeling of safety. Knowing that we are held in someone’s mind and heart is truly gratifying and sustaining.
The natural state of mammals is to protect ourselves from harm in order to be safe. This comes from a need of basic survival. We want to continue on. We want to be heard and loved. And we want to be loved in return.
Four fundamental truths lie in the way of truly being loved or to be capable of love.
- Our innate capacity to harm one another is complemented by an innate capacity to heal one another. To restore and rebuild relationships helps ourselves and our communities. This also enhances our overall feelings of well-being.
- Language gives us the vehicle of communicating our experiences as well as find common meaning in situations. Words can hurt, but words can also heal.
- We are all in complete control of the physiology, even the involuntary parts. We can change and adjust our breathing patterns, how we move and how we touch.
- Because we are the mammals that walk upright and have a working brain, we have the ability to change social conditions to create environments and spaces where everyone is included and accepted.
The Art of Living
The German social psychologist and philosopher Erich Fromm (1900-1980), wrote in his seminal book, The Art of Being,
…The full humanization of man requires the breakthrough from the possession-centered to the activity-centered orientation, from selfishness and egotism to solidarity and altruism.
In order to understand the meaning of a fulfilled life, Fromm asserted the following:
…It seems that nature—or if you will, the process of evolution—has endowed every living being with the wish to live, and whatever he believes to be his reasons are only secondary thoughts by which he rationalizes this biologically given impulse.
So we now ask, How do you choose to live?
What makes life meaningful for you?
Author Willa Cather (b. December 7, 1873-April 24, 1947) wrote on this beautiful intricate dance between self and the family, and shared her thoughts on the complexity of human relationships:
…one realizes that human relationships are the tragic necessity of human life, that they can never be wholly satisfactory, that every ego is half the time greedily seeking them, and half the time pulling away from them.
Perhaps author John Steinbeck said it best in a 1958 love letter to his son:
…There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had…don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—the main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.
Author Kurt Vonnegut (b. November 11, 1922- d. April 11, 2007), in his terrific book, If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young
…I suppose you all want money and true love, among other things. I will tell you how to make money: work very hard. I will tell you how to win love: wear nice clothing and smile all the time. Learn the words to the latest songs…We are all experiencing more or less the same lifetime now.
What is it the slightly older people want from the slightly younger people? They want credit for having survived so long, and often imaginatively, under difficult conditions. Slightly younger people are intolerably stingy about giving them credit for that.
What is it the slightly younger people want from the slightly older people? More than anything, I think, they want acknowledgement, and without further ado, that they are without question women and men now. Slightly older people are intolerably stingy about making such an acknowledgement.
Love can be cumbersome and awkward. But love can also be a rich and beautiful part of the complexion of our lives. As Leg 3 of the Longer Table, love is an integral part of strength of the table through its other legs: Trust, Respect, Honor.
The object of love is to give our best and most beautiful. Do your best to live up to it.
From our family to yours:
Remember: Share your goodness, far and wide, as much as you can, with as many people as you can, for as long as you can, with as much respect as you can.
Ready, Set…Time to Say Please and Thank You again.
COMING NEXT: Leg 4: Honor