My life coach tells me that there are really only two emotions—Love and Fear. All other feelings are facets of these two core emotions. Happiness, joy, contentment, and other positive feelings spring from Love. Hatred, anger, depression and sadness, confusion, frustration, and other negative feelings emanate from Fear. This information astounds me, even as it makes sense, because of my own choices. Why do I choose Fear over Love?
As a Christian, I identify Love with Charity. In 1 Corinthians 13, Christians are reminded that even if we do many good works, if we are not filled with charity, it profiteth us nothing. Paul then goes on to enumerate many qualities of Charity: patience, kindness, contentment, humility, propriety, unselfishness, tranquility, innocence, honesty, hopefulness, and endurance. “Charity never faileth.”
The remorseful, shackled ghost from A Christmas Carol, Jacob Marley, details his own list of charitable qualities as he laments to Ebenezer Scrooge: "Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
So, what if I tried Love? What if, instead of being afraid or angry or hurt or defensive, I saw each situation with Love? How would that change my reaction to my family, my friends, and even strangers? How would that change the way I viewed my life and other people?
Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” I’d like to choose creative altruism, please, not the darkness of destructive selfishness. And I believe creative altruism includes the way we treat ourselves, as well as the way we treat others—sometimes even harder for us to do.
I love this little mini-lesson from Bernard de Clairvaux: “Neither fear nor self-interest can convert the soul. They may change the appearance, perhaps even the conduct, but never the object of supreme desire . . . . Fear is the motive which constrains the slave; greed binds the selfish man, by which he is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed (James 1:14). But neither fear nor self-interest is undefiled, nor can they convert the soul. Only charity can convert the soul, freeing it from unworthy motives.”
Oh, how I want to be free from unworthy motives! Oh, how I want to be free, not a slave or self-obsessed! Oh, how I want to live free from Fear and other negative emotions!
What if I tried Love?