Goodness, Inner Power and Personal Effectiveness

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The true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good. ~ Ann Landers

Character is a blend of acquired habits and original patterns of behaviour originating from a core of identity or ‘seed’ that contains the blueprint of our life. It is the program that initiates the spontaneous unfolding of your life – whether that unfolding is a harmonious spiral of growth or an ungracious struggle.

Your happiness – and that of others around you – depends on whether you cultivate or spoil your character and relate to your seed with tact, gratefulness and care. The seed is yours; it holds a considerable potential for goodness, accomplishments and self-realization; and you are the gardener. The potential is with you whether you know it or not; it is good whether you like it or not; it is whole and powerful however much you have been told you are inadequate and, whether you consciously want it or not, it intends to grow.

  • Character ‘grows’ when you use your intelligence, your heart and conscience to explore reality, seek the purpose of your life, clarify what is personally important for you; when you understand the tendencies and aspirations of your individual nature and formulate the principles of behaviour that will positively empower it.
  • Character solidifies when you commit to live your life on the basis of what you know is true, good and right. I remember one friend telling me: “If something is said to be true but generates pain or sorrow, to me that thing is not true”. Period. I really loved that idea. Something that doesn’t directly participate to the rise of intelligence, love, peace, joy and freedom is not true however intellectually correct or justifiable it is.

History has taught us how the truest truths turned into lethal lies when they were used to dominate, humiliate or manipulate. Attitude counts. Remember times when you were ordered to behave by someone who was obviously not behaving themselves. Did you find their behaviour was ‘true’ at that time? They may have forced you into subservience, but you didn’t like it and you probably withdrew some of the trust you had invested in them. There is no lasting enterprise or community without trust.

  • Character becomes good when you realize that you need to meet the needs of others in exactly the same manner as you attempt to fulfill yours. This is a major challenge for people who have been brought up in the mould of individualism, competitiveness and ‘me first’ but as a matter of fact, it is unreasonable to expect good relationships if you have established your personal needs at the centre of your world. Society has come to define happiness as the ability to get what we want from others, but can we dream of being happy if others experience a loss in our company?

If peace, harmony and happiness are of some importance to us, it doesn’t ultimately matter what we do or how much we earn. What is important is that we are sensitive, considerate and obliging and that, as a matter of principle, no one is hurt by our words or go away from us without having received something – an acknowledgment of their presence, a smile or a benevolent feeling.

When people feel good about you, it dramatically increases your chances to be happy both in terms of the positive vibes you receive but also of the co-operation they are prepared to offer. This doesn’t mean in any way that you have to compromise or be subservient or cunning. No. But what it does mean is that alongside decisiveness, focus and determination, you also need to have cultivated humility, generosity, sweetness, politeness, patience and love. Authentic, fulfilling and sustainable effectiveness is the product of such an inner balance.

  • Character develops unshakable roots when you align your thinking, your vision and goals with your values, conscience and behaviour – when you become consistent. People who are consistent do what they say; say what they think; think what they understand; understand what they know; know what they feel – and they usually feel good.

They contribute to the growth of intelligence, harmony, peace and freedom and are, in the true sense of the term, ‘effective’. Because they can rely on themselves, others feel they can rely on them. Because they have come to accept and know themselves at a deep level, they have gained personal power.

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22 thoughts on “Goodness, Inner Power and Personal Effectiveness

  1. It was a bit like dejavu reading this post starting with the quote at the top because I had just posted this quote on my Facebook update and had used it on my recent blog post but deleted it bcos I thought it was getting too long. But anyhow, this topic of character has been so much on my mind lately and I have been deeply reflecting on this and what it means in practice in my own life. Thank you so much for this truly excellent post. You have obviously been thinking about this and have come to a place of quiet understanding and practice. Always blessed to be here. Sharon

    1. Good morning and thans for the feedback. talking about character, I was very much taken aback by the post where you describe how being in a convent like school with strict discipline allowed you to live your childhood with a sense of security and how this allowed you to enjoy it – your childhood life – tremendously. It is the first time I see the relationship between rules, discipline and freedom so clearly. And the beauty is that your sharing made me understand that without any explanation – just a statement born of experience and conveyed with a warm and contented heart. Many thanks for that.

  2. I suppose one great factor differs between a Catholic school in Malaysia and a Catholic school say in a western country, perhaps. As you might know living in SEA before, Malaysia is a multi-racial country and so while I went to a Catholic school, the majority of the students were from Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim backgrounds – so too the teachers. So growing up with all this wonderful mix and exposure to friends from different religious backgrounds and being taught by teachers who were rather dedicated to their profession made my schooling years a very happy one indeed. Thank you so much for reading and if it’s not too much to ask, what were you doing in South East Asia as you had mentioned before? Have a great day! Sharon

      1. Dear Sharon, back to the blog! South East Asia … Vietnam … oh, so much to say! Life changing for sure. It was an experience of friendship before all – so much authenticity, innocence, warmth, sensitivity, subtlety and depth in relationships with others. I had been looking for that all my life and found it there. Those people – those I met and lived and worked with because not all are like this, far from that! – really live from the heart and they have this intelligence which comes from there. An extraordinary and yet very ordinary ability to feel comfortable with others and be authentic, simple, truthful, real. It was very refreshing for me and made me see and feel what it meant to live from a completely different place than what we do in the West. I was there for 8 years full time and merged with the people – and the people are all there is in Vietnam: no monuments of imposing architecture but people – very nice people – and nature of course, wonderful nature but hot and heavy and humid in the North where I was.
        And they love their land so much. One day, as I was flying in, we flew over rice paddies and I do not know why or how but I could feel the love that had been into those fields, into that land. It was palpable.

        I went there originally to open a meditation centre but it developed into much more and ended being a place where we wer teaching holistic living and values based leadership. When the action really started, we used to have workshops every evening and it was so rewarding. Every evening after the workshops, I would really thank life life and my own fortune for being privileged to live such experience.
        What we were doing at the time was that we would open classes and not close them – and they would last for a full year, once a week. People would come, mainly young people, university students and young professionals – and we would take up their questions and explore life in all its dimensions: love, intelligence, relationships, creativity, desires, motivation, positive thinking, meaningful living, etc, etc.
        I had a framework but it would all be improvisation: responding to the needs of the moment. And the room was full every evening of the week with people sitting in the staircases and no floor space left for even reaching my chair …. so, yes, plenty of very dear and rich memories.

        This is how everything I am now writing emerged. I would finish the class and go to the computer to write the main points and the exercises we had done and it evolved like that. I am now working to put the whole thing on a website with plenty of exercises … but this is another story!

        Apart form the quality of relationships, very non violent and deep, what was very beautiful – what has always fascinated me since I do the work/service I do – is to witness the blossoming of the human flower: how, when allowed and encouraged to come to the surface, intelligence, love, values, purpose and good will grow spontaneously and beautifully. Vietnamese are such good students! So … yes, a lot to say … maybe a book would do. HOpe it satisfies your curiosity … I will post some pictures sometimes. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to recall those beautiful memories Sharon!

  3. Dear Frederic, wow seems a very small word in response to your lifework and the depth of such a life-transforming 8 years – both yours and your students. How immeasurably precious to be animated with a passion for life and translate that passion and values into a daily meaningful contribution to humanity. To witness the blossoming of another human soul.

    The love you have for the people of Vietnam is palpable. It is infused in every word you have written here. I am blessed to meet someone like you who lives with a clarity and vision to make this world better, to change the current system, to transform minds and hearts, to reorient and perfect characters – ultimately to see the gems of inestimable value in each person and help them reach their fullest potential as a noble being.

    I can see so vividly those workshops spilling to the staircase full of young receptive hearts. Your tireless labour of love for mankind is an inspiration.

    Your description of this people who have a very special place in your heart and what they represent, a stark contrast to our modern world reminds me of the time when we lived in Afghanistan (2007-2009). My husband was a development advisor to the Finnish Embassy and our son basically grew up from his youngest childhood in Kabul. Those few years changed my life forever and how I viewed the world altogether.

    In the most unexpected place, I found the most unexpected peace and healing. I almost felt like the part of me that was withered became alive among these folks. The people we had gone to help, gave me more than I could ever give back. I grew to love them as my own family. I know them to be fiercely loyal, deeply kind and beautifully untouched by the garish materialism of our century. I believe the Afghans are one of the few people groups left in the world who represent a culture and life unspoilt by the current wave of modern culture that’s quickly devouring every level of society. But sadly that is changing swiftly too.

    It is this childlike innocence, open wonderment and despite a life so harsh, are a people eager to laugh and please. In many ways, they are like children in the things of the world and yet masters in the things of the heart. We have so much to learn from them and yet it remains our responsibility to carefully nurture them through the valley of corrupting influences. (I think the Ring and its analogy is perhaps apt here?)

    So much more to say, suffice this is a start. 😀

    I not only wish you all the success in all your endeavours, yes, you should write a book for this sore-tired misguided world. I am blessed to meet like-minded people like you who care, truly care for something bigger than yourself. Most of all, to see the world not as a separate place with borders but to truly see us all a one human race, one family. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question. I am humbled. My warmest wishes to you, Sharon

  4. Reblogged this on A Leaf in Springtime and commented:
    I had the most interesting and probably the longest correspondence (see Comment section) with a fellow blogger which I had the wonderful fortune of getting to know recently. His writings, lifetime work and thoughts contain so much truth, wisdom and clarity as to deserve your time and attention. Sharon

    1. Dear Sharon, good morning and a note of gratitude for inviting so many friends in my blog home – got busy all day yesterday returning visits and making tea for all those visitors! Almost overwhelming for an hermit living on a mountain top in the middle of a desert! No, joking. It was a very beautiful and encouraging gift. But the most inspiring gift I get from your posts and comments is the gift of humility.

      1. Hello Frederic!! I hope it wasn’t too sudden this flood of attention. I’m pretty sure I didn’t do very much as I know you would have had a stream of visitors to your blog all on its own merits and your own fine reputation. I actually spent the first 6 months of my blogging career as a closet blogger, blogging to the winds and three die-hard fans (mum and dad and my husband Sam) 😀 I hope you get to also take it easy. Once again, I am thankful to have met you – when I had no idea if you were young or old, man or woman, from which country under our beautiful skies and yet, your one single blog left a deep impression on me. Take care dear hermit on the mountain and my warmest greetings to Mona! Sharon

  5. This is very well put, Fredric, and you make some good points. However, I think it’s a myth that “society defines happiness as the ability to get what we want from others.” What I have learned from society, for instance, is to do my best and to help others along the way. For example, if I worked hard to get an “A” in school, I was pleased by that success, and that took nothing away from others, and if I was a part of a study group, we all helped each other along the way. I see the work force and general living in a community as a progression of the same thing. We help and support each other and derive happiness from our relationships, experiences, and personal character, as you say, while doing our best to earn a living and to find our calling in this life. Those are my impressions, at least!

    1. Hi Robin, Many thanks for commenting on this point with such honesty. I really appreciate your point. I wrote it this way because I discovered the concept – and practice – of doing your best for the sake of goodness and contributing to others life and society quite late in my life. Before that, all I had seen was selfishness or what, in my eyes was selfishness. It is only later when I approached spirituality that I started to open my eyes and heart to the possibility of selfless action for the sake of rightfulness, beauty, love and social improvement. I am very touched that you lived in such an environment. Your comment also shows me that I still carry some of this ‘the world is bad, only the absolute is good’ syndrom that some people who have gone deep into a spiritual path carry. I definitely did for many years. Will take this opportunity to carry on brushing it away! Really like the description of your scholl years. I grew up in africa and to me unfortunately, school friends groups were the roas to laziness, carelessness and nastiness …

  6. Thank you for that honest response as well, Fredric! I’m sorry about your own school friends, and I’m encouraged to know that you have overcome that unhappy experience. Certainly, there are people everywhere whose actions tend to bring us down.
    I have to tell you that I especially appreciate the quote in your header! My daughter has that quote on a t-shirt she got while working with a group in Nicaragua. What I like about that quote is that *although on the surface, it seems a bit selfish* the truth that in being our best selves, we do the most good for the world–whether that best self is a poet, doctor, or charity worker. We all have a place on this earth. The trick is in finding it.

    1. Hi Robin, sorry for slow response … life … Many thanks for replying. Yes, the paradox of self awareness and selflessness – it works both ways actually: the more self aware we are the more aware of others we become and, as Sharon puts it in her daily rerminders – self mastery is elf forgetfulness in surrender and giving or overflowing … life is full of those paradoxes Finding our place on Earth … finding our purpose and mission … that is the key question of our life and I feel so grateful that it is my job to help people looking at them! I love your last quote from Picasso! Thanks.

      1. Thanks for your reply (and it’s refreshing to know that your life doesn’t revolve around the blog, so your response time is just fine by me! 🙂 )
        I’m glad you like the quote! Thank you. Thoughts and imagination are powerful things, and I thought that Picasso’s quote is a wonderful way of expressing that.

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. And I absolutely loved the comments, as they became a real and sincere conversation/discussion. I think it’s personal for each human being to which degree to give, but I certainly derive so much joy, happiness and positivity from giving (what ever it is – my time, my money, my love…), that there is no doubt in my mind that if we to treat ourselves to the best gift – this gift would be serving others, attending to others needs (be it a human being, animal, or a forest…), looking forward to share what ever it is you have to share – thoughts, things, knowledge, experiences… even our vulnerability…

  8. Good morning dear NY parrot … what a beautiful comment you have made – really a gift of love from the heart of friendship and enthusiasm. You definitely have a lot to give! Yes, there is only joy in giving – pleasure in enjoying things for ourselves, and that can look like it is satisfying, but it is draining and deceptive because it becomes boring in the long run joy … how far can we live just for our on self? But happiness is something different, it is the fruit of exchange and sharing because it is this energy which rises us up! Very happy that we meet and come in connection in the big rosary of seeds for a new society.
    May I suggest – I do not like doing this because it feels I am promoting myself … but if you have liked this one, you probably enjoy one of the latests – Be yourself but do not live for yourself.
    Very happy we ‘met’ – your comment made my morning (it is morning now in Rajasthan). All best wishes to you!

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