Post 3 of 36
In several posts in this blog category (The Story of Your Life), besides reviewing a “Hero’s Journey” in relation to our own lives, we will explore how to approach our life. The “Life Goals Approach” can help chart a clear course with purpose in our life. The first life goal is to elevate our personal strengths, skills, and maturity. It’s finding our inner harmony. The second life goal is developing loving and enriching relationships, especially in the context of our family. Our associations influence the environment we create. The third life goal is to enhance the lives of others through our unique contributions. The “Life Goals Approach” pursues and achieves objectives that point the way to valuable and productive lives. These objectives model the fulfillment of our deepest purpose: to become well-rounded, capable, and benevolent people who produce a heavenly society.
What is the First Life Goal?
The first life goal is to become a mature person with an honorable character. Our goal of maturity is to become someone who altruistically loves others. Heart is the fundamental impulse for relationships. It’s what prompts us to long for the joy of loving and being loved. The satisfaction of valuing others and being valued by others is what makes our life worthwhile. Love and relationships are indispensable human requirements as strong as our need for food and shelter. Love in its truest sense intensifies altruistic action such as giving, serving, and sacrificing ourselves for the sake of our cherished interactions.
Our heart begins to develop from the moment we are born. It is not an automatic process like the growth of our physical body. Instead, we need to strengthen our heart just as a plant needs to be cultivated with love and care to become healthy and beautiful. We thrive on experiences of love that encourage our heart to open and to make connections with others. Positive reinforcement and love from our parents, teachers, and mentors nourish our hearts and our desire to do more. It takes our concentrated effort to practice care and appreciation. A refined heart is an unselfish heart.
One Experience of Growing My Heart
It is one thing to believe in values and another matter to work toward developing them. When I was in my 20s, our church group, inspired by Rev. and Mrs. Moon, set out to do what was called, “Home Church.” Our motivation was to grow our hearts by serving and loving one neighborhood area. We were putting the Christian philosophy of “loving the world” into practice. Our area of 360 homes represented the world. The goal was to love the people, serve them (as Jesus came to serve), and create a heavenly environment (on earth in this area). Of course, we knew these were idealistic endeavors, but we also knew if we attempted to accomplish them, we would grow our own character and heart regardless of the outcome.
At first, I was all ready to forget about my own limitations and let the good begin. After ringing on a few door bells, it was evident that “loving the people” was not as easy as it seemed, so my friend and I decided to take a short coffee break. The days passed, along with our coffee breaks, restless sleeps, desperate prayers, and heartfelt efforts. In the end, we became close to several families, organized some projects, received compliments, and grew our hearts. When I look back, there is so much more we could have done but at the time, we overcame only limited obstacles to our hearts. However, that effort did not leave my memory. Even now, as I wake up each morning, I often think about how I can give more, do more, and be more. When I think about the families I presently work with; the lingering recollection of those “Home Church” days of service and effort bestows hope that I can give more today even if it’s just a little bit more than yesterday.
Building a Strong Mind
To find peace, and fulfillment, we need to have harmony between what we think and what we do based on true love. First, we need to make our mind strong, so we can act the way we should. We do this by setting up the right environment for our mind. This takes putting energy into disciplining our thoughts on what is good. Then, we need to instill inspiration based on what we want to do. For instance, if we want to live for others, we need to read, watch, and think of ways to accomplish this. There are certain things to consider if we want to live for others. For one, we need our health, so we need to take care of our bodies, but we also need to take care of our spirit in a similar way. As we eat good food, rest, get sunshine, exercise, and have regular doctor visits for the health of our bodies, we also need to fill our spirit with good words, good experiences, good counsel, warm relationships, and happy thoughts. Just as with physical exercise, we need to make effort when it’s not always natural to follow good desires. When our mind and spirit are clear and strong, we are more apt to accomplish our goals, relate better with others, and grow a mature heart.
The American psychologist Abraham Maslow spoke of life as a process of “self-actualization.” Maslow's original model is based on satisfying an individual's needs, beginning with survival, and continuing to a sense of identity, belonging, and fulfillment. He focused entirely on the inner needs of the individual. The standard of maturity is relative to the context and situation of the individual. Later, Maslow added an additional level:
The later model places the highest form of human development at a trans-personal level, where the self/ego and its needs are transcended. This represents a monumental shift in the conceptualization of human personality and its development. At the level of self-actualization, the individual works to actualize the individual’s own potential; there is thus, at least potentially, a certain self-aggrandizing aspect to this motivational stage, as there is with all the stages below it in Maslow’s hierarchy. At the level of self-transcendence, the individual’s own needs are put aside in favor of service to others and to some higher force or cause conceived as being outside the personal self.
Learning self-control is an essential component of a mature character. Self-control is based on strengthening the power of the conscience through the continual practice of good habits. When our self-control wanes, our physical desires can override our conscience so we live in the here and now caring more for our own comfort and emotion than minding how our actions will affect our future. On the other hand, an authentic life is based on the root of good character, the foundation of altruistic love, and the axis provided by a sense of purpose and destiny in life.
Immoral people do not think of what is good for others, but only what feels good for themselves. Insensitivity to the needs and interests of others leads to an exploitation of relationships. When we strive to be a good person it can feel like we’re rowing upstream in a cultural current that is embellished by the mindsets to think, work, live, and care primarily for ourselves.
The first step is to decide on our core virtues. What is it that we value and hold true? Next, we make small incremental steps in the right direction so that each time our limitations confront us, we make better decisions. After a while, it becomes natural but at first it may take some internal convincing. For instance, if we decide that we need to be understanding of others, we may find that some situations make us struggle, such as an irritating co-worker or a nagging child. It is in these moments that we need to dig deep to make a change. Serving helps tremendously. Being grateful for the contributions of others can help us view our situation from a fresh perspective and the list goes on…
How does a mature person act?
How have you experienced growing your heart?
What struggles have you had with your conscience and how did you resolve them?
How do you train yourself to be in self-control?
What do you want to be like in 10, 20, or more years?
What are your core values?
What steps can you take to grow your heart and character in your present situation?
Koltko-Rivera, Mark E. “Rediscovering the Later Version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Self-Transcendence and Opportunities for Theory, Research, and Unification.” 2006 Review of General Psychology, American Psychological Association, 10.4, pp. 306-07