What to focus on when friends bail out on you

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets”. Matthew 7:12

It comes a time when we need help and those we previously helped are the first persons we run to. Unlike expected, reciprocity is not guaranteed. What kind of attitude should we embrace then?

Should we bear grudge?

Rumour spread in my native town that the wife of my math teacher from high-school had been fighting with a rare type of stomach cancer for years.

He is one of the few teachers who instilled the passion for knowledge in me. As a token of appreciation, I decided to pay a visit and see for myself how they cope.

His wife was in the hospital, fighting for her life. He was in the garden in front of their house, making phone calls to raise some money for her medication.

He’d sold all his possessions. He had nothing more to sell. His last resort solution was to borrow money from relatives and friends.

Much to his surprise, individuals whom he had helped under different circumstances, conjured up excuses for not being able to lend money.

The genius mind teacher that I knew had been replaced by a wounded beast with hatred in his heart.

“My heart got sick the day when a former student who is now quite a well-off man declined any help.”, he said. “For three years, I had taught him private classes for free.”

“Life is treacherous. People are treacherous.”

These are the words of a 70 years old Romanian singer who was asked to describe some of her core beliefs in an interview.

My first reaction was to pity her for having such a gloomy outlook on people. Contemplating more on it, I concluded that she adopted a rather cautious attitude.

Indeed, human beings can be cruel, violent, savages, liars, contemptuous, gossipy, mean, etc. Bearing these negative characteristics in mind, we are less vulnerable to others’ behaviour.

At the same time, human beings can be empathic, highly moral, compassionate, kind, and loving. Such individuals can be firm adepts of the Golden Rule, which states that we should treat others the way we would want them to treat us.

In my view, humanity is in a constant fight against the bad with the good in us and outside us. As Albert Einstein said, “The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything”.

The question is how can the good Samaritans maintain the goodness inside when others won’t lift a finger in their times of need?

After all, any kind person can feel embittered, angry, disillusioned and betrayed when being mistreated by peers!

Staying aware throughout the emotional meltdown

When being hurt, it is darn difficult to remember not to take others’ treatment to heart. Most of the times, others’ behaviour reflects sides of who they are.

  • They may have their own problems, maybe not be as urgent or crucial as ours, but nevertheless prioritised.
  • They may have a partner who is in charge with the family finances.
  • They may be modern embodiments of Dickens’s Scrooge, too greedy to lend a penny.

The bewilderment of the refusal may cloud the awareness of the unconscious expectation, which we place on others the moment we help them. Some of us take it as a moral obligation to return the help subsequently.

Yet, not every person has high morals. So, when we treat others the way we would like to be treated, we need to be aware that we choose to do that. Because we believe in that.

Spreading goodness is a value in life. Like any other value, it is not absolute. If others choose to live by other values, we need to learn to let them be.

Alignment of life circumstances

When the help is not reciprocated, we can safeguard our wellbeing by thinking, “Well, he can’t help me now. But maybe someone else will.”

Maybe there is a timing of the Universe regarding what people can be helpful, where and when. There is a stroke of fate when we cross our way with others whose life circumstances are in alignment with ours.

Preferably sooner than later, we will find our way out of the tornado of negative emotions and marvel at the mysterious dynamism of life based on the Law and the Prophets.

If you experienced similar situations, how did you react towards the persons who didn’t treat you as good as you had treated them before?


The Dormant Richness Inside Each One Of Us

Where does happiness come from?

“Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.”, Benjamin Franklin, the Founding Father of USA.

Most certainly, it is easy to agree with Benjamin Franklin’s view on happiness. We all have our small joys in life, such as watching a TV series or going to an ice-hockey game in the weekend. The problem is that we don’t perceive these small joys as real and long-lasting happiness. Instead, our minds are wired to chase the happiness, which comes from the “good fortune”. And this is how we go through life feeling empty, depressed, miserable, self-disillusioned and bitter.

The hope helps us survive the bottom line. We will be happy when we find love, when we get our dream job, when I get promoted, when we become a mother, when our sexual life gets better, when we are rich, after I divorce, etc. Yet, all these future expectations are beguiling and the very source of unhappiness. For example, if you do become rich, there will always be room for making more money. Therefore, the chase after happiness continues and the present is a struggle. Or, if you do get promoted, you may be disillusioned to realise that it is not bringing as much happiness as you expected.

Are there any chance for us human beings to be happy at certain points in our lifetime?

Research on happiness has flourished in the last ten years, offering to individuals self-help tips on how to find their own happiness. Here are few books, which I consider worthy of mentioning: Sonja Lyubormiski, The Myths of Happiness, and Robert Biswas-Diener and Ed Diener, Unlocking The Mysteries of Psychological Wealth. Scientific studies show that we can at least reach happy moods and irrespective of what causes these happy moods, they “lead people to be more productive, more likeable, more active, more healthy, more friendly, more helpful, more resilient, and more creative.” (Sonja Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness, pp. 265)

Have you ever made this test to observe people from the distance? If you did, I am sure you agree that you can spot the unhappy ones by the way they carry themselves. Especially in the case of us women, the gloomy atmosphere in our minds reflects in our body movements.

Has it ever happened to you to adopt new ways of thinking for few days and think you are finally happy just before you slide back into the old way of viewing the world? Is sustainable happiness but an abstract concept that exists in the work of psychologists such as Sonja Lyubomirsky?

Can we reach a steady level of happiness?

How we relate to happiness differs from one individual to another, depending on our genetical heritage, our childhood and adulthood experiences. However, I strongly believe that we all can find our glimpses of long-lasting happiness by digging out the dusty characteristics which make us human.

Compassion, empathy, love, gratitude, altruism, soul-to-soul connection: they all live in us, the problem is that they have been forgotten. The age of science has brought wonderful advancements into the world at the cost of taking us away from who we really are: human beings.

If we want to be happy, we need to take a good look inside and cultivate the seeds of all these characteristics that make us human. Yes, it hurts when we feel that there is not love in our life. While we are waiting for love, we’d benefit from turning our face and soul towards the people around us and offer them the crumbles of love that there are in us. When we hear about a sick person who needs money for surgery, why not donating few euros from our income? Why not joining a group of people with similar interests?

Life happens now and we fool ourselves if we think we have control over it and we’ll be happy tomorrow. If we can control something, well that something is the humanity in us. The happiness will follow it.