Last week we discussed how to increase agapē, your general compassion for everything. This week we’ll discuss why you’d do such a thing. After all, hasn’t economics and business school taught you that the most selfish, narcissistic, egomaniacal, even Machiavellian, people win the game of life? Get all the money and power and groupies and fame?
Firstly the truth is, no. Few people actually get ahead by trampling those below. The people who rise to the top are more often those who make friends and influence people. Those who build alliances and forge friendly relationships with their customers and co-workers, not those who make enemies and wage feuds. No human can do their best work alone, we all need help and support from each other. Our families. Our friends. Our society. Even the occasional stranger. We get that support mostly from those with whom we have built a relationship, and the more loving you are the easier you will build that support.
When you love, people in general are more likely to return it. How many people who love you do you hate? How many people who you love hate you? As you grow to love more, you will increase the number of people who love you. Love isn’t a price paid on a more economical selfishness, it’s an investment and sure, some investment’s go bad but that’s no reason not to invest again.
As you grow your agapē you will find people come to like you more, you’ll notice how they help you, you’ll feel a warm gratitude and know that repaying that help will bring yet more back to you.
When you are more compassionate to a wider range of things, you are more likely to be fair, towards a larger range of things. A reputation for being fair will make your judgement more likely sought, your advice more often taken, your confidence more often trusted. Again, building relationships and encouraging people to help you, to find ways you can help each other.
Even if Machiavellian exploitation of people was the best route to money and power, it’s not money or power which actually make people happy, or help them transcend. Good company, not a good bank balance. Being loved, not feared.
You know that ‘love’ isn’t a property of the object which is loved, it’s a property of the brain doing the loving. You know that you can change your own brain. You know that the longer a brain says in some given state the more likely it is to revert there. If you spend a lot of time loving, your neutral gear, your rest position will be closer to the loving end of the multi-dimensional emotional spectrum. If you spend time in the agapē areas of thought-space, you’ll lay your hat there and your brain will call it home.
Ask yourself, who is more likely to be happy, a guy who spends his time hating, who’s thought-space home is hateville, or the guy who spends his time loving, resting in neutral near the agapēton?
If you love more, you are more likely to forgive, and forgiving is less expensive than holding a grudge. Grudges cause feuds. Punishing too much hurts your bottom line. Grudges prevent you from once again gaining mutual benefit from a relationship. Being annoyed with a shop-keep for overcharging you 5p should not make you stop your custom if you can save 10p by going there. If you make him feel gratitude he can gain from repaying. As you cultivate a more loving attitude you’ll be more willing to forgive, helping you build more allies, friends, stronger relationships.
Even increasing your agapē for inanimate objects helps you. Of course those things will not repay your love, they will not build a relationship with you, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be helpful to you. A love for the environment, be it the globe, the country, the street or your own furniture, will motivate you conserve and get the most from it.
If you love things you will protect them, keep them safe. You’re more likely to need something in good condition later than to need a broken thing.
This, then, is why it’s useful, pleasurable, worthwhile and good for you to learn to love more widely.
Next week we’ll talk about remembering to point some of that love at yourself.