1. Speak to people. There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting.
2. Smile at people. It takes 72 muscles to frown, only four to smile.
3. Call people by name. The sweetest music to anyone's ear is the sound of their own name.
4. Be friendly and helpful. If you would have friends, be friendly.
5. Be genuinely interested in people. You can like almost everybody if you try.
6. Be generous with praise, cautious with criticism.
7. Be considerate with feelings of others. There are usually three sides to a controversy: yours, the other person's, and the right one.
8. Be alert to give service. What counts most in life is what we do for others.
9. Learn to trust people, for trust builds lasting relationships.
10. Add to this a good sense of humour, a big dose of patience, and a dash of humility, and you will be rewarded many fold.
My favourite is number 5: “Be genuinely interested in people – you can like almost everybody if you try.” And yet it is probably one of the hardest things to do. We are all individuals, with different personalities and quirks, and will naturally be drawn to those people with whom we have something in common, or with whom we can empathise. Liking almost everybody is quite a tall order. I suppose it’s another way of saying that we should recognise that of God in everyone.
The parable of the prodigal son is a salutary one here. We all know the story; the youngest son demands his half of his inheritance, goes off and squanders it on wine, women and song, and is reduced to herding pigs, who are better fed than his father’s servants. He realises the error of his ways, and goes back home, with the idea of asking his father if he could be a servant in the house. But when he gets there, his father is overjoyed; he dresses him in a fine robe, puts a ring on his finger, and kills the fatted calf in rejoicing. As it says in the Gospel of Luke: “While he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.” That is loving in spite of human imperfection. That is living your life in the spirit of love.
Happy Valentine's Day!