The six most important things you need in order to live are air, water, sleep, food, love and shelter, Everything else is extra. Everything. You can live without air for four minutes. You can live without water for five days. You can live without sleep for about a week. You can live without food for about a month. You can sometimes live without, or with only very, very little love for years. You can live without shelter for decades if you find a clement environment. This means that the most important thing is breathing, then drinking, then sleep, then food, love and then shelter.
If you ever find yourself saying, “Oh” I have to have this or I’ll die without it!” think about these six most essential things. Breathe in, and realize that this breath you are breathing in is life, and the next one, and the next one after that. Drink some water, pure, lovely water and realize that it is also keeping you alive and well. When you sleep, know that it is keeping you alive and that it matters. When you eat, remember that eating is needed, but that breathing, water and sleep are much more important.
But when you feel love, realize that it is a gift. Once someone has loved you enough to make sure you were born and survived and learned some good things like how to speak and how to live in your world, living without love is painful but it is not deadly. So treat every bit of love you receive as though it was something special and precious, and something gifted to you just because that is the nature of love: it is abundant, and wants to crate more of itself. When you come home, and realize that you have a place to live out of the rain, out of the heat of the son, a place where you can eat, sleep, drink good water and breathe, realize that these are the only things you truly need.
Someone once said, “The most stupid question is the one that you don’t ask.” This not only means that if you don’t ask how something works before you use it, you are likely to get poor results, it also means that if you take too much for granted, you can get so used to doing things the same old way that you won’t be able to change. Strange, isn’t it? But if you keep on doing things the same way all the time and don’t think about what you are doing or why, then you stop thinking about what you are doing.
It’s very useful to ask yourself several times a day, “Why am I doing this?” Why are you being mean and teasing your brother? Why are you stamping around and throwing things? Or why are you being nice to your friend? Why are you doing what your parents tell you to do? You can learn so much, not only about yourself but also about other people and how the wold works.
If you think, “I am teasing my brother because I like seeing him squirm,” then ask yourself why. Why do you want to make him feel bad? Do you feel bad yourself? Why? If you think, “Why am I stomping around and throwing things?” you can find out why you are feeling so hurt or frustrated that you have to make everyone in the world know about it. It might be because you don’t feel heard by others, but then again, it might be that you don’t take the time to listen to others! If you are being nice to your friend and ask yourself why, you can learn how much that friend means to you. And if ask why you do what your parents tell you, you can learn so much about yourself! But if you never ask, you will never learn why you do things, and you will go through life without seeing it. And going through life that way can be very stupid indeed.
The best advice I ever read was in a story where a father advised his son:”When in doubt, do the loving thing.” Obviously, when you are in a new situation, or facing a new challenge, or someone that is difficult to be with and you don’t know what to do, reach into your heart for the loving thing.The loving thing is to be kind, and you do this by putting yourself in the other person’s place. This can take a lot of imagination! If someone you know had a brother or sister that was killed in an accident, you may have no idea what that could feel like, so you don’t say anything. You are afraid of saying the wrong thing. Yet sometimes saying, “I don’t really know what to say, but I know you are sad,” is enough. It is certainly a good beginning!
You can practice kindness by feeling what others might feel when something happens by imagining it has happened to you. If you hear in the news about someone in some far-away country whose house has just collapsed because of an earthquake, look around your own house and imagine how you would feel if your roof caved in, and your room was destroyed, your refrigerator, TV, phone and lights no longer worked, and there was nowhere to sleep. Worse yet, that this would not be fixed any time soon. How would you feel? Lost? Unhappy? Angry?
It may be hard to know what that is. Some might say that no one has e er loved them, or that every one around them is mean, nasty and hateful, You cannot say that you have never been loved. If you truly had never been loved, you would not be alive. So, if you are alive, start thinking about the little moments, the tiny bits of kindness you received. Was it someone who tried to understand you? Was it someone who smiled at you for no reason, just to say hello? Was it someone who asked how you were feeling? Go back and remember! And when you remember, know that you have discovered a rare treasure: how to be loving and kind.