The Rewards of being Loyal to Something (Anything)

Have you ever experienced the delight of paying for your favorite things using a mobile wallet?

This happened to me for the first time this week.

I paid for my shopping using the accumulated points from a customer loyalty card. As I have been collecting the points mindlessly for months, I now have potentially weeks of free juices, vegan brownies and sourdough pizzas.

Best surprise ever!

I’ve been visiting the app daily just to see the updated list of things I can buy, planning my purchases in advance.

And it got me thinking.

How has this happened, this unexpected abundance?

One (reasonable) answer is that I spend too much time and money in organic stores.

But there is another way of looking at things. Something that I was doing on the regular – shopping for healthy delicious food- that was already quite gratifying had yielded into something of even greater value. And as I wasn’t expecting the points, or shopping because of them, their arrival all the sweeter.

Was there a life lesson in there?, I thought.

Loyalty and love

Love, I realized, is built through loyalty to certain pursuits.

The pursuits might not be the things that immediately come to mind.

For instance, I don’t mean going out on dates, or fixing your appearance so you’re more attractive. These are good, solid investments if you want to find love.

But they’re hard; they take efforts. Often, the rewards are delayed: you have to keep dating the duff ones, and avoiding eating your body-weight in cake.

Love happens through loyalty to mostly solitary pursuits. Things that feel okay, even quite nice, in the moment.

Being with yourself. Learning to better love the people you are with. Practicing self-awareness, and mindfulness.

Be loyal to these things, and months from now you’ll turn around and find you’re with the person of your dreams, in the relationship of your wildest fantasies.

How do I know?

Because if you’ve done your internal laundry, everything is just better.

And because the quality of our relationships isn’t some isolated thing, but a result of our overall happiness and state of mind.

Loyalty and life

The rest of life works exactly the same: it’s a system of investments and rewards.

What should you invest in?

That’s for you to decide. I would suggest being loyal to your values, foremost. And the pastimes that help you to live those values.

I don’t know why I write. It’s just one of those things that sort of happened and kept happening. Four years later, I turn around and I have a blog that people read, and a book. That’s strange to me, as I never set out for that to happen.

Some people know where they are going, so it’s less of a surprise when they find they’re rewarded.

I envy those people.

At the same time I recognise that their outcomes may lack creativity, and maybe even honesty. You’ve got to get rid of the life you planned, said Joseph Campbell, so as to have the life that’s waiting for you.

You’ve got to make room for the unexpected. You can’t be attached to results. All you have to focus on is remaining loyal and consistent to things.

No, not shopping in organic stores (unless you want to). Reading. Learning. Cooking and making other things. Mastering a skill you care to master.

Deciding which things to be loyal to

It’s commonly understood that things worth having have a suffering element – usually, we think, there’s a trade off.

I think there is always a trade off, but if you aren’t happy to make it, then it’s the wrong one.

Three types of activities:

  • Activities that only the experiencing self is rewarded by. Eating cake for example.
  • Those that are non fun to experience, but the gratification is all delayed. Running is an example for me.
  • Activities that the experiencing self either finds pleasurable or is indifferent to, but which result in rewards you care about. Shopping in stores with loyalty schemes. Practicing being aware of yourself in the moment. Writing. Yoga. I would imagine that most of life should be built around this category of activities.

Life shouldn’t feel shit – it shouldn’t be some big ordeal. It should be easy to love your boyfriend or girlfriend, if you chose well. And it should be easy to exercise, if you are doing the form you like. It should be quite pleasant to work. To hang out with your friends.

The journey towards the rewards should be rewarding.

Do the things that you believe in

Here is the upshot of this hopefully-not-totally-useless reflection:

Do the things you believe in, that add meaning to your life.

Continue investing in the same activities.

Don’t think about when it’s time to cash in your points. That’ll happen without any effort on your part. And when it does, be thankful.

You are going to pass the time anyway. Pass it loyally.

Months later, it’ll be there – this big tangible thing. Tons of free shit. A loving relationship. A career you enjoy.

Something truly awesome you wasn’t expecting.

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