Hyder Zahed, PhD, had a good life until it was turned upside down. Following a divorce, a job loss, and a heart attack, he was determined to redesign his life by creating an ongoing legacy.
Create Your Legacy offers a simple formula — LGGC (pronounced Legacy, a formula for creating and leaving a lasting legacy). Topics include shifting life, accepting oneself and others, having unconditional love, being honest, balancing work and relationships, being truly present, being generous, and cultivating gratitude.
Create Your Legacy seeks to help the reader visualize and make conscious life decisions. It allows you to apply a very simple formula in order to improve your life and leave behind an enduring legacy.
This is within everyone’s reach, and living the legacy costs nothing. Without a doubt, the rewards from living a good life and creating a legacy are immeasurable.
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Read an Excerpt
CREATE YOUR LEGACY
Four Portals to Living a Life of Love and Caring
By HYDER ZAHED
Balboa PressCopyright © 2013 Dr. Hyder Zahed
All rights reserved.
"Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible-it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could." (Barbara de Angelis)
LOVE IN THE LGGC (LEGACY) model is the first and most-complex principle. However, it, like all the other portals, can be accessed at any time. First we need to gain knowledge of different types of love so we can understand what we seek to access. We can learn much about the complexity and types of love from the ancient Greeks. In the Greek language, more than one word describes love.
Eros describes love that changes from moment to moment based on varying circumstances. For example, when love partners are expressing pleasing words and treating each other with passion, the warm, fuzzy feeling of love grows, and the desire to spend time together increases. But, when the partners are negative or share painful words, they may pull away and choose to spend less time together.
What causes us to consciously pull away? Let's think about it. People want to avoid pain and move toward what they perceive to be pleasure. We not only withdraw from pain or negative emotions in romantic relationships, but we also withdraw in all other types of relationships, whether with family, coworkers, friends, or acquaintances. When we withdrawal, Eros love dissipates because it is love based upon external pain/pleasure circumstances.
Good news! There are options if we want sustainable relationships. First, we have to expand our understanding of love to extend beyond Eros and consider love a virtuous principle.
Love as a Virtue
If we want a kind of love that is enduring and steady under all circumstances, we can choose agape love. Agape love is often referred to as a general affection or deeper sense of true love or sacrificial love. This kind of love honors others regardless of whether the circumstances are pleasant and whether others satisfy us or meet our expectations and desires.
To move toward enduring love, I challenge you to think of love as a virtue rather than as an emotion. Namaste from the Hindu tradition means, "I acknowledge the spirit within you as the same spirit within me." This kind of love involves a commitment to stay aware of our oneness with others and all life. Even if someone has a difficult personality or flawed character or if circumstances are not easy, we can still honor that person from the spiritual perspective because in essence, we are all made of the same spirit.
When we are experiencing life-constricting emotions (e.g., anger, fear) that seem contrary to maintaining a loving relationship, all love is not lost. We can turn our attention to the principle of love and choose to enter that portal. Love calls us to treat others with respect and kindness and to speak gently, even when we don't like what they are doing or saying or how they look or think. Loving another under difficult circumstances is respecting the other person's divinity, which is the same as ours.
Brother Ishmael Tetteh is a contemporary African mystic and spiritual speaker from Ghana author of the book The Way Forward: Principles and Practices for Practical Living, his main claim in this book is—"Love is not a sentiment; it is a discipline." We must discipline ourselves to remember that none of us is outside the spirit of life; none of us is really alone. When we insist on remembering this truth of our oneness, we can honor the divinity of others. When we do so, we are acting out of the principle of love. (Tetteh 2005).
Loving emotions are valuable expressions and experiences of human life. The truth is that when we regard others from the perspective of the unchanging principle of oneness, then relationships are strengthened and made more beautiful and powerful. It is up to us in our vision of oneness to give love. Dr. River Smith, in his striking book A Conspiracy to Love, succinctly says, "We don't find love by seeking it; we find love by giving it." When we give love, let's choose to give it unconditionally. (Smith 2009).
Unconditional love is treating the other person with kindness and respect, even when the conditions or circumstances don't appear to warrant such actions. In his book, Real Love (2003), Dr. Greg Baer explores the destructive effects of conditional love. Conditional love starts with how our parents expressed their acceptance or rejection of our behavior. If we did something pleasing, helpful, or smart, our parents or other influential adults would smile and speak to us in a tone of joy with a feeling of approval. They would typically say, "Good job!" or "Way to go!" when we made a high grade on our math quiz or picked up our scattered toys. We had met our parents' conditions to express their appreciation of us. In turn, we felt loved and wanted.
On the other hand, when we did something unpleasing, rough, inconvenient, or seemingly stupid, our parents might frown, roll their eyes, sigh heavily, giving us the feeling that we were not loved when we displeased them. The child simply didn't meet the condition(s) required to get the parents' loving approval. Because of this, we may go through life thinking that feeling loved comes from doing something to earn the approval of another person. Some children may experience love as an ever-changing, unstable, and conditional emotion.
Johannes Bourgeois, a teacher of science of the mind, used to ask students to rephrase the common expression, "I deserve love." She taught that as long as we think we have to deserve love, we'll never experience ourselves as worthy and valuable. Instead, try saying, "I am the presence of love" or "My relationships are centers of love" or "I bring love with me wherever I go." Having to deserve love leads to people-pleasing and courtship rather than the relaxation of simply knowing we are here to give love, receive love, and be a loving presence.
A mother asking for help regarding her relationship with her son was in a counseling session with Rev. Beckwith, a contemporary new thought speaker and writer. The mother said, "I don't know why my son in prison feels so distant from me. I visit him regularly, put money on his books, and I always remember to close every visit by saying, 'Honey, remember—I love you, no matter what.'" Beckwith urged her to slightly change the sentence next time. "Just leave off the last part and see if that makes a difference," he said. At the end of the next visit, the mother did just that. She said simply, "Honey, remember—I love you." She noticed a subtle expression in her son's eyes that seemed surprised, somehow softer. Over time, the communication between them improved. The "no matter what" had been a reminder of all the unacceptable, disappointing things he had done in the past. This little phrase had been undermining the feeling of genuine unconditional love his mother really felt inside. (Beckwith 2013 E-source)
Dr. Baer insists that if we identify love with meeting the expectations or conditions of our parents or others, then as children and adults we will demand that others please us and meet up to our needs and expectations. We perpetuate the cycle of unhappiness brought on by the conditional love we are using in our own relationships. We keep blaming our unhappiness on our partner, our children, our siblings, our friends, or others. We are unaware that our own conditional loving mode (inherited from our upbringing) is what is destroying our present happiness and setting up our current relationships for frustration and failure. Once we understand the vicious pain/pleasure cycle, we can begin the necessary transformation toward loving unconditionally, toward experiencing "real love." By regarding and treating others with respect, we stand on the solid ground of principle rather than on passing emotions and temporary conditions.
Self-Love and Respect
Having respect for others is not possible unless we have respect for ourselves. By respect, naturally, I don't mean being impressed by our own title, status, position, or appearance. I mean honoring our inner divine being. In Christianity, Mark 12:31 says to love your neighbor as yourself.
We must first love and respect ourselves before we can truly give love and respect to our neighbors. Daylee Deanna Schwartz urges us in her book, How Do I Love Me, to get out of the habit of focusing on shortcomings and get into the habit of giving positive qualities more attention. (Schwartz 2012).
To build self-love and overcome low self-esteem is to change how we feel emotionally about ourselves. To change our emotion requires changing two different core beliefs about self-image. The first core belief that hinders self-love is a false belief that we are not good enough. The second false core belief is that we are not who we should be. We can have self-love and self-respect if we know we are good enough to do what we are meant to do. We can in any moment decide who we want to be and take action. If we choose to be more loving, we can start with loving-kindness.
Treating ourselves and others with loving-kindness starts with speaking gently and politely, in a manner that communicates respect. Showing kindness to others is possible when we have made a commitment to practice loving-kindness and well-wishing regardless of the difficulty or disappointment of the situation. Moreover, treating others with kindness has the potential to bring out the best in others rather than the worst. Thus, showing kindness increases the chances of improving relationships and situations.
Gary Chapman, who is not only a writer and workshop facilitator but also a minister and family counselor, suggests occasionally making a list in the evening of all the instances of kindness we have experienced that day. These instances can come through the actions or words of others or from us. For example, a neighbor I had never met before rang my doorbell and told me that the interior lights were on in a truck parked in front of my house. It just so happened the truck belonged to a friend who was visiting me. My friend and I were truly grateful for the kind communication. Each entry of thought of loving-kindness doesn't have to be momentous or world-shaking.
Maintaining a kindness list helps us become more aware of our own progress toward becoming more loving and giving under all circumstances. Such increased awareness may prompt us to have the courage to go back and apologize to another person when we have been unkind. In addition, increased awareness helps us view every interaction with others as an opportunity to express kindness deliberately. The sincere intention of practicing the principle of Namaste in all of our relationships is what we usually call unconditional love.
Celebrating ourselves, our relationships, and life itself is not possible without honesty. When we are dishonest with others, either by verbal falsehood or by presenting a false image, we are living a lie. If we are dishonest, then we are not honoring and celebrating life; indeed, we are defiling life. Lying to others is a sure way to put distance between us and undermine the foundation of any relationship. Truthfulness with others builds mutual trust and creates a sense of openness and spaciousness to exist in the friendship, thus cultivating a feeling of safety and comfort. The toll of dishonesty is distrust and isolation. The reward of honesty is deepening our connections with all others, taking responsibility for our own actions, and strengthening our own self-worth and esteem.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a contemporary Buddhist monk and global peace worker, in his book Being Peace (2005) writes that speaking honestly in any negotiation between individuals or groups is necessary. Speaking the truth in a loving way is also necessary. He says to use only "loving speech" when communicating about our differences and disagreements. We must be lovingly honest; we must discipline ourselves to speak in a way that conveys respect, gentleness, and humility.
Gary Chapman in Love as a Way of Life (2009) uses the vivid metaphor of words as being either bullets or seeds. If we use our words as bullets with a feeling of superiority and condemnation, we are not going to be able to restore a relationship to love. If we use our words as seeds with a feeling of supportiveness and sincere goodwill, we can rebuild relationships in positive and life-affirming ways.
When we need to open up and talk candidly about something difficult with another person, we must set aside time to focus on the conversation with keen attention and purpose. During the conversation, we must listen patiently, speak tactfully, and tell the truth as we understand it. We must align our words, voice inflection and tone, eye expression, body language, and actions with our inner awareness in our honest exchange.
One of the best ways to enrich and deepen the love in any relationship is to develop the habit of honesty in both little and big matters. Honesty may not always be comfortable. If honest communication is the norm rather than the exception in our relationships, we are freeing ourselves and others to be authentic.
Balancing Love Relationships and Work
Being fully present, whether at home, in love relationships, or at work, can be challenging. However, it is necessary to fully experience the principle of love.
A woman who felt she did not receive enough fatherly love recently told me that her father, who had been a CEO with a leading company in Europe, provided every material want she and her two brothers had during their childhood. However, with his heavy responsibilities at work, she and her siblings almost never saw him. She remembered one time when he had to attend a major conference in Hawaii. He took all three children with him, set them up in a big, beautiful room in a luxurious hotel, and then left them alone while he participated in the conference throughout the day and evening. Later, his daughter had the courage to tell her father they would have preferred to stay at home where they could at least play with their friends in the neighborhood. He was shocked. Naturally, he thought he was doing a wonderful thing by taking his children along even though he knew he would have to leave them while he worked many hours during the week. He had failed to balance his love for his children with his work requirements because he was not truly present with his children.
Being Truly Present
We may be physically present, of course, without being emotionally or mentally present. Sometimes we may text or check our smartphones while others are talking with us. We may do this even if what we're aiming for in the portal of love is a sense of being fully present, listening, responding, paying attention, enjoying each other's presence, and conveying a positive regard to others.
The only time we are alive is in the present moment. The present moment is all we have. The past is a memory, and the future is an idea, a possibility. Like the CEO who took his children to Hawaii but didn't have time for them, we often become aware of sad insights of not being present after the fact. We can't go back and recapture the past, so when we get an opportunity to be truly present, we don't want to lose it.
In my own life, I struggled with being truly present. For example, as a supervisor in a fast-paced, competitive corporate world, I struggled with balancing home and work demands. Yet, one day I wrote a simple note to my daughter that she cherishes to this day.
I am with you, around you, for you, and beside you—always.
I have worked to find a balance as often as I could between being away at work and being present at home. Often pulling away was neither convenient nor easy when I was tempted to finish one more step of a major project even though my daughter was yearning for my presence at home. I needed discipline and determination to balance my desire to provide with my desire to share my unconditional love and time. When conflicted with competing desires, we can choose to be fully present and to act from the portal of love.
A worthy goal is to become ever more patient in our relationships to express love. Buddha taught that patience is the gatekeeper between the two worlds of our unconscious impulses and our conscious choices. Patience can close the gate on harmful impulses that are constantly pushing their way up from the layer of hidden conditioned habits or patterns in every cell. Reactive, mindless behaviors try to take over and are sure to bring harm to our relationships and our health. These behaviors reenact the trauma experienced in our childhood, trauma that made us feel powerless, worthless, unlovable, or alone. Patient love can help us to stop repeating the trauma that we have known in our past.
Excerpted from CREATE YOUR LEGACY by HYDER ZAHED. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Hyder Zahed. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Love, 1,
Chapter 2 - Generosity, 22,
Chapter 3 - Gratitude, 43,
Chapter 4 - Compassion, 69,
Reference Sources, 101,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I found Dr. Zahed's book very useful for my current situation. I’ve had to abandon all activities unrelated to caring for my wife who is fighting cancer and is home bound all the time. The LGGC model I find very useful for that: Entering the Love portal – made it easy to abandon any personal activities (like tutoring at the Literacy center); Generosity – being especially humble realizing that what is most important right now is her need for lots of emotional and caring support, and not my needs; Gratitude – having her see every moment how much I love her through my daily support for feeding, bathing, medicine giving and discussions about the “future”, indicating how much I appreciate having received her love all these years (married for 41 years so far); Compassion – my realization that she is struggling and suffering and needs all the comfort she can get from me and others which caused me to search beyond medical assistance (I have recently organized a team of alternative medicine practitioners to provide acupuncture, Reiki and reflexology. I recommend this book for anyone going through difficult times.