Reading Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People back in the early nineties continues to have a profound impact on me and the way I look at things. As different situations, especially challenging ones, present themselves I often think of a new way to apply some of the book’s principles and examples.
In The 7 Habits Covey recounts an interaction between him and a married couple at one of his seminars where the asks for his advice. The interaction goes something like this .
Couple: “We no longer feel love for each other. What should we do?”
Covey: “Love each other.”
Couple: “You don’t understand. We no longer feel love.”
Covey: “Yes. I understand. My advice stands. Love each other. “Love” is a verb. Do and say those things that people who love one another do and say.”
This is wise counsel. Emotion and state can and do follow action. This counsel and observation can be applied to other areas of our lives too. I wonder how many people used to love their jobs, but now view them as drudgery; they’ve “lost that loving feeling.” If this is you, I encourage you to ask yourself how your behavior would change if you did have that feeling. Use your imagination. If you were an impartial observer watching you on the job, what kind of things would you need to observe to come to the conclusion: Wow! This person really loves what they do! I challenge you to ask yourself this and then to start behaving in a way that would compellingly convince an observer of this. This doesn’t mean that you passively and completely accept things just as they are or that you think that everything is perfect. You can strive for growth, advocate for change, and still love; just as you can in a relationship with a person whom you love. Your feelings will change when your actions do. After all, “love” is a verb.
Finally, consider the words of another great teacher of our time, the late Wayne Dyer: If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”