In the process of nurturing, many positive patterns are developed in a human being. Think of the much-loved infant that gets constantly cuddled and adored, surrounded by smiling faces and constant attention. This is the kind of support you will be giving yourself, and anyone else you choose to nurture, in the process of embracing both self-development and helping others. Both these acts, nurturing yourself and nurturing others are inextricably linked. You can’t practice one without practicing the other. You may, however, focus entirely on nurturing your own SELF first, if you wish. Especially if you think you have been lacking in this area previously.
As an aside, when I use the capital to write Self I do that purposely. The small “s” self I regard as the emblem of a person who lives predominantly from ego. Ego is okay in small doses, for without it we would not be who we are. We need a healthy ego to develop into mature individuals. But that part of us, our personality which psychologists and philosophers call ego, must adjust to the greater good in order to grow into a healthy, spiritually fit, emotionally balanced adult. The spiritually and emotionally healthy individual is the kind of person I refer to as having a healthy Self.
This is what we shall accomplish in our journey here: together discovering a way to live from our Higher Self and cast aside the old, never-fulfilling, always-painfully lacking smaller, lesser self.
By the way, it’s the lower self that tells us to eat too much, drink too much, take drugs, gamble, shop, etc. to numb our pain, whereas our Higher Self is that part of us that says, “Hey! It’s only life! Lighten up! Focus on the positive, let go of the negatives. It’s all about choices, sweetheart.” That voice is part of you. That positive, fun-filled inner voice is the Higher Self that resides within every human heart.
Most humans don’t like change, and nurturing certainly takes effort, changing negative traits into better ones for adults, and guiding children for those who are in that role. Those of us who are, or were once addicted to feeling bad-sad-mad, often resist that every person has the choice to feel good—or not. Some people simply don’t want to believe that by choosing to change we can claim our birthright. Others kid themselves that happiness is illusory, or false, or a drawback to life rather than an respectable, attainable asset.
Whichever type of person you are, whether you’re someone who’s addicted to change or someone who’s stubborn about changing, or a non-believer of the greater possibilities positive change rewards us with—sooner or later something happens in life that makes all of us want to be different than what we have been up to now.
Once upon a time I was a change-junkie, so in order to embrace the up-till-then, elusive-to-me inner happiness we’re speaking of here, I had to change from—you guessed it—changing so much! I had never found, no matter what different country I was in, what new occupation I tried, or which next relationship I embarked upon next—I always felt, deep inside, that something was terribly lacking in my life.
Others who are not the addicted-to-adventure types such as I, those who are less spontaneous, perhaps a tad more wary of trying new things, who rarely venture from their comfort zones—all of us have the exact same feelings as everyone else. All humans share the life journey of trying to discover some modicum of simple satisfaction.
All humans want, and deserve, to be fulfilled and—for lack of a better word for this inner state of contentment—experience plain old happiness. Nevertheless, in certain religious belief systems contentment is considered neither necessary nor humanly possible. If one looks elsewhere, however, we find philosophies that have existed for thousands of years that say the exact opposite—that all humans are born with contentment as their very achievable “birth right.”
The Sanskrit word Satchidananda is my favorite choice for describing this inner state of human feeling that takes only effort to achieve. It translates as Sat – Beingness; Chid – Knowledge; Ananda – Bliss.
What a lovely thought, eh? That just by being alive we can attain the kind of knowledge that will reward us with … bliss. Bliss is simply another word for contentment, aka happiness.