The older I get, the more I am convinced of one thing; life truly is all about personal relationships. Regardless of what field you work in, everything involves other people. The way we treat other people, is the way that life will end up treating us. If we are kind, helpful and thoughtful to others; we will usually receive kindness, thoughtfulness and help from them in return. You reap what you sow! It is a principle in nature that cannot be broken.
When I was in graduate school, we had a guest speaker in one of our educational classes. He was a specialist in working with senior adults. He came to give us some guidance on how to work with different age groups. As an educator, I had learned much about working with children, teenagers and young people. But, it requires some special understanding to work with senior adults.
While this gentleman was teaching the class, he asked a question that I will never forget: “Do you know where old crabs come from?” He was referring to the fact that many older people are considered to be “old crabs”. We sat there silently. The professor repeated himself. “Do you know where old crabs come from?” Not getting a response from our class, he finally said, “From young crabs!” He went on to explain that if a person is crabby when they are old, it is because they were crabby when they were young. They stayed that way their whole life and ended up being that way in their old age. He pointed out that some of the nicest, sweetest, kindest, most loving and wonderful people that he had ever met or worked with in his entire life were older people. “But, the reason they are nice now is because they were that way growing up,” he said.
You see, you don’t suddenly become a nice, kind person. You don’t suddenly become thoughtful and caring about others when you get old. It is a pattern that you develop and work with your whole life.
I sometimes get caught up in being busy. I tend to be a workaholic and have to force myself to enjoy my family and friends. When I am working, I feel productive, but building relationships sometimes seems like a waste of time. However, nothing could be further from the truth! It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that work is all there is to life. While I do believe in working hard, I have also seen that caring for other people is really what life is all about. It is important to listen to them and to be kind and gentle in my responses as I interact with others.
In 2002, Pastor Rick Warren wrote a book entitled, The Purpose Driven Life. This book made publishing history after it simultaneously hit number one on all four major best-selling lists, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly. It has become the best-selling, non-fiction, hardback book in history, with more than 22 million copies sold. The first sentence sets the tone for the entire book when it says, “It’s not about you!” I have learned that he is exactly right! (By the way, isn’t it amazing that a book that focuses on how to be a person who cares for others sold over 22 million copies? It would seem that message already resonates inside many of us!)
Why not make a concentrated effort to see how much kindness and gentleness you can demonstrate towards other people? They will benefit greatly from your heartfelt care towards them and it will return to you many-fold. And besides, you don’t want to be an old crab, do you?
Tip: Where do old crabs come from?
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm