My little boy wanted a pet dog.
But my wife doesn’t like dogs.
So we gave him a potted plant instead.
I know. We sound cruel, but that’s not true. We even disinfect the torture chambers in our basement regularly with Lysol.
“You need to learn responsibility,” my wife told my son. “If you take care of your potted plant, we’ll know if you can take care of a pet dog.”
The logic was superb. But for some reason, my son wasn’t too happy. My wife pinched me, indicating that it was now my turn to tell my son something. Anything. (I’m very adept in the language of pinchywoo. It’s an ancient dialect where people spoke to each other by pinching.) In pinchywoo language, my wife wanted me to tell my son that he had to accept the fact that he’ll be the only boy in the entire galaxy that’ll have a potted plant for a pet. Isn’t that cool?
I had to think of something, fast. And eureka, my brilliant mind remembered a profound philosophical insight from an ancient source.
I quoted Barney, the purple dinosaur. “Just imagine, just imagine!” I pointed to the plant and said, “Imagine this is a dog. Let’s call him a name. I suggest Ruff.”
My son’s jaw dropped.
“Ruff is very unique,” I went on, “He doesn’t bark. He doesn’t eat. He doesn’t poop. He doesn’t walk. He doesn’t lick your face with saliva…”
“Uh…maybe because it’s not a dog?” my son interrupted my creativity.
“Shhh. Don’t say that,” I whispered, “The plant may hear you…”
“I don’t get it,” my son said.
“The plant has to think it’s a dog too.”
His eyes rolled up to the ceiling.
“Son, you only have to do one thing. You have to water it, everyday.”
“Sure, Dad,” my son intoned with the great excitement and enthusiasm and zest of a…potted plant.
Soon, he forgot about watering his pet plant. He found it boring. Hmm, I wonder why.
And in a few weeks, Ruff the potted plant died.
We didn’t bury him. After all, it wasn’t really a dog.
Water Your Relationships with Love
Do you want to have happy relationships?
Your relationships are just like plants.
You need to water them daily or they die.
For relationships, their water is love.
If you don’t give your relationships enough time, or attention, or respect, or kindness—all of which are expressions of love—they too will die.
Happy relationships don’t just happen. You make them happen.
How do you create happy relationships?
Here is the secret: Deliberately nurture them.
The key word is “deliberate”.
I know of husbands and wives who live under one roof but whose hearts are so far apart, you’d think one lives in Venus and the other in Mars. (Hmm, why does that sound so familiar?) I know of parents and kids who no longer connect at a deep level—because they’re not deliberate in nurturing their relationship.
All the happy people I know in this world are fantastic experts in building happy relationships. No exceptions.
Today, I want to share with you 4 powerful ways of creating happy relationships in your life.
1) Create Patterns of Connection
Spending time with each other must be a pattern—or it won’t happen.
You can’t say, “When I have free time, I’ll play with my kids” or “Whenever my schedule lightens up, I’ll date my spouse”. Believe me, they’ll never happen.
My wife and I set aside Tuesday night for our weekly date night.
Nothing touches that sacred time. Unless Pope Benedict calls me up to ask for my opinion on some Theological issue. Or President Obama requests for a videoconference with me on certain world issues he needs clarity on.
This is what “Create Patterns” means. I don’t accept any speaking engagements or place any of my meetings on Tuesday nights. This isn’t easy. I lead nine non-profit organizations, three of which are international. I also run a few small businesses. For over ten years now, my wife and I have been faithful to our Tuesday nights.
And for my kids? On Monday mornings, I have a yummy breakfast with my eldest son Bene. We go out and grab pancakes and omelets together. We talk about life and how to conquer the world.
For my 4-year old son, we don’t have dates. He doesn’t appreciate them yet. But what he does appreciate is that we go biking together every morning. Correction: He bikes and I run beside him breathless.
Patterns don’t just happen. I make them happen regularly—or they don’t happen at all.
But creating Patterns of Connection isn’t enough. You need to determine the quality of these connections…
2) Be Kind
I know. Boring, right?
Some of you may be asking, “Bo, can you be a little bit more sophisticated? Call kindness something else. Invent a big word.”
Okay, I can play that game.
If you want to be happy, enlarge your psychoneuralsensitivity and affective-interpersonalization skills…”
Nah. Solutions are simple.
Friends, do you want to have happy relationships? Be kind.
Oh, if only husbands become kind to their wives—and vice versa—a lot of marriages will be saved. And if only parents become kind to their kids—and vice versa—a lot of families will become great again.
Yes, I’m talking about old-fashioned kindness!
- To speak with respect.
- To be courteous.
- To show affection. (Hugs.)
- To give affirmation.
- To be gentle.
- To serve in the little things.
- To smile and delight when you see them.
- To encourage.
I’ve seen many people who’re very kind to visitors and friends—speaking to them with great gentleness. They smile at them. They make them comfortable. They defer to them. And yet these very kind and respectful people will turn around and scream at their own family members! All of sudden, they’ll be rude, selfish, and uncommunicative.
If you want to create happy relationships, make a decision to be kind to everyone—your family members included.
How many times do you say, “I love you” to your parents? (Answer? Daily!)
How many times do you hug your kids? (Answer: Many times a day!)
How many times do you praise your spouse? (Answer: 7x a day!)
Show kindness everyday!
The next principle is equally important…
3) Prioritize People over Money
One day, two very proud Egyptian Jewelers were on the street, debating who had the biggest, most beautiful diamonds.
“I’ve got the biggest diamonds!” shouted one man. The other said, “Well, I’ve got the most beautiful diamonds!” Their voices were loud and angry, just like Congressmen in the Philippines.
A third man approached them and smiled, “My name is Ibrahim Matta Zakariya Yunus Al-Yasa Efraim Dawud bin Tariq bin Khalid Al-Fulan.”
“What?” the two Jewelers asked.
“Just call me Ib for short. I’m also a Jeweler. May I tell you a story?” Before they could answer, Ib continued, “One day, I was going to another city to sell my diamonds. And I had to cross a large dessert. But that day, a fierce sandstorm came out of nowhere. It was the biggest and fiercest sandstorms I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. And I lost my way in the desert. After many days wandering, I was dying of starvation…”
“Oh no…” said the Jewelers, “What did you do?” The two men had totally forgotten their argument and were now totally mesmerized by Ib’s story. (That is why I propose that when Congressmen are debating uselessly, they should show Korean and Mexican Telenovelas during their sessions. There will be less fights.)
“I sat on the sands, giving up all hope,” Ib said, “but mindlessly, I went through my bags for the hundredth time. Lo and behold, I saw a hidden pocket I didn’t see before. I opened it and saw a black pouch! Oh, you can imagine how excited I was. Perhaps it was food, I told myself. And so with trembling fingers, I opened it…”
“Was it food?” one Jeweler asked.
“Water perhaps?” the other one said.
“Neither. With great dismay and utter frustration, I saw that the pouch was filled with nothing else but diamonds. It was just diamonds!”
Friends, there are some things more important than money.
As I write this, there are many rich people who are dying on their death beds, surrounded by their millions, but their hearts are hungry for love—and they find none.
Question: Does this mean that you can’t be wealthy?
4) Make Others Successful
You can aspire to become a millionaire.
But there’s something more important than becoming a millionaire: To become a millionaire-maker.
If people are more important than money, you don’t want to be rich alone. You can’t. It’s against your identity and your core values.
So you take others with you in this journey towards true wealth. You take your partners, your employees, your friends, and your family.
You’re not greedy. You give the people you love the opportunity to make their millions too.
You want to share your wealth.
This is the greatest success you can acheive: When you help others become successful.
May your dreams come true,