Years ago, a woman came into my office seething with rage. Her ex-husband had done something that infuriated her, and she wanted to talk about it. I let her vent for a few minutes, then asked her, "Do you want to be married to him again?" That question was like lighting a match to a barrel of gunpowder. She exploded. "NO! I don't ever want to see him again!" A few expletives and sputtering later, I softly asked, "Then why are you carrying him around with you all the time?" She was suddenly quiet. "I hadn't thought of that," she said. She was following her emotion, which was leading her around by the nose.
Husbands and wives do it all the time, meting out kindness and tenderness only when they feel like it, then wondering why their marriage is barely limping along. Brothers and sisters wonder why they don't feel close to each other, as each waits for the other to make the first step towards reconciliation. No one seems to understand that if we act kindly, we'll feel kind. If we act in a disrespectful manner, we will feel angry and hostile. However, if even when we're sad, we practice gratitude, our sadness will be tempered. And if we treat someone kindly even if we are feeling angry or impatient, it not only affects the other person, we ourselves begin to feel better. To a large extent, our feelings are the result of choices we make. We are as happy as we choose to be.
A traveller came to a city gate and found a beggar sitting in the shade of the wall. "What kind of people live here?" he asked.
"What kind of people are there where you come from," the beggar replied.
"They are cruel, selfish, and rude, caring only for themselves," the traveller answered.
"You might want to move on," the beggar responded; "The same kind of people live here."
As the traveller continued on his journey, another pilgrim approached the city gate and asked the beggar the same question.
"What kind of people live in the city from which you hail?" the beggar queried.
"They are kind and considerate, generous and helpful," the pilgrim answered.
"Then enter, kind friend. You will find the same kind of people here."
I am grateful tonight for Dr. Floyd McCallum and his McCallumisms, especially this one: "Emotion Follows Motion."