We've had an unusually cold winter here in Georgia. In the past twenty-five years, for example, the two outside faucets have never frozen, but this year both pipes extending from the house to the faucets froze and cracked. I repaired the pipes, but then I needed to prevent a recurrence of the problem.
Because of the configuration of the pipes, I couldn't use the simple insulated cups sold in the store. I had to build my own Styrofoam boxes that would insulate the pipes from the cold. Initially I thought I'd just cut a piece of foam and tape it together. Simple. By the time I'd completed the project, however, I was surprised to learn that I had used nineteen separate tools and supply items, including tape, rope, washers, cord locks, drill bit, and more.
Similarly, I have been surprised on many occasions by the broad array of tools required to achieve happiness in life. The first few tools are simple: we learn what Real Love is, which gives us a new perspective on our lives to that point, as well as giving us a motivation to change. Then we learn about how to tell the truth about ourselves and create opportunities to gather the love we need.
But soon we find ourselves in situations—an angry partner, a complaining child, an unhappy boss—where our meager understanding of unconditional love is glaringly insufficient. Then we acquire an understanding of expectations, requests, the Law of Choice, and more. And we find that the more we know—the more tools we have—the better prepared we are to respond productively to blaming, angry children, marriage problems, and more.
Where do we acquire these tools that give us true happiness and far more fulfilling relationships? Certainly studying Real Love principles is helpful, but more important are the real-life experiences where we actually apply what we have learned. As we keep learning and practicing, we add to the tools we can use.
Often we don't discover our need for a tool until we encounter a situation we can't handle, just as I discovered the tools needed for my Styrofoam construction only when the next step became difficult or impossible. When the time came to cut the foam, I found that I didn't have a straight edge for marking the foam with a pen. I went back to the garage for the tool I needed, but when returned and sat on the ground, I discovered that the wet ground was uncomfortable. Back to the garage for a stool to sit on. I had not anticipated everything I would need, and although in each instance I could have continued working, the outcome would have been less satisfactory. Or I could have stopped to complain that I didn't have the right tools, but what good would that have done?
Similarly, a great many tools are required to deal with the situations we encounter in life. When we're frustrated or otherwise unhappy, these feelings are just a sign that we need to find another tool, rather than complain or continue to ineffectively use the tools we already have. As we study the principles of Real Love—and as we practice them in real life—we will acquire the tools we need for genuine personal happiness and fulfilling relationships.