In ancient lore, seekers of truth and wisdom would climb a high mountain to obtain counsel from the reclusive sage dwelling near the top. Today one can receive mountains of advice in seconds with just a few keystrokes and a click. The list of resources and people who appear willing and qualified to give us the guidance we need seems endless. When it comes to relationships, countless books, blogs, articles, and programs are anxious to tell us what we need to do. Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of the information age is information overload. The difficulty we face today is how do we make time to sort through all of this information and then make it pay off.

Let’s envision a scenario of how it plays out. Both of you come home from a long stressful day—there seems to be another whole day’s worth of activities to do before you fall into bed. Since women purchase 80% of all relationship books, I will assume that she may at some point hand her husband a 350-page treatise on the 7 steps to achieve greater honesty in a relationship. He looks at it as if she just handed him the detailed schematics of an atom bomb and says, “Sure honey I will read this right away.” He then tosses it on the stack of unread books that tell him just one more thing he needs to do that day. Problem unsolved.

I am not a big fan of handing out many suggestions on what to do in any given circumstance. Mainly because there are too many variables and multiple methods of achieving the same desired results. I am a huge proponent, however, of suggesting and endorsing what someone needs to BE to handle a situation. Let me illustrate.

I have always liked the story of the flock of eagles that walked to a seminar that would, “Change Your Life!” They listened to speaker after speaker who taught them everything they would need to know to . . . FLY. They discussed the physiology of their wings and aerodynamics, weather, flying maneuvers, and most importantly how flying could help them get more food. They even had each eagle try a little flying themselves. It was an amazing conference! As the eagles walked home, they talked about all the neat things they just learned.

Every time I hear this story, it is followed up with the same moral punch line that these poor eagles didn’t apply what they had learned. I tend to look at things differently. I think the conference was the problem. You don’t teach eagles to fly—you teach eagles to BE eagles—then the concept of flying comes naturally. Conversely, you shouldn’t have to concentrate on learning the countless things you need to do to be considered honest in a relationship. You first learn to BE honest. The details of doing are much easier after that.

Using honesty as the example, just to be consistent, a dishonest person has to make the decision every time they speak whether or not they are going to tell the truth or lie—and there is a lot to consider here so they have to be quick. Will I get caught? Do I need to lie? What will happen if I tell the truth? And more importantly—what did I say last time? An honest person doesn’t have to think about any of that. They are going to tell the truth—every time. The only decision they need to make is whether or not to say anything at all.

Too many people want to learn how to fake it. They want to pretend to be honest by doing the right things—but deep down they don’t really want to BE honest. This kind of behavior has a tendency to catch up with you—probably sooner than you think. Doing without being or believing is by strict definition, hypocrisy.

For example—for men and women who were truly in love with their mate, the book, “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman, was a godsend. It helped them to communicate something that they WERE—in love! For those who didn’t have any real feelings of love for their spouse it was just another useful tool to help them fake it for maybe one more day. Same book, same suggestions, different results. In a relationship, “to BE or not to BE,” should not be a question.

Someone who IS or trying to BE doesn’t see a self-help book as a threat. They see it as reinforcement. They welcome the “to do” list as a helpful reminder of who they want to BE. I have yet to encounter even one relationship book or program that wasn’t in some way helpful—but there are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of them. There is so much information that most people don’t know where to start. I suggest the place to begin is determining who you need to BE. The plethora of self-help books is rendered more effective when we choose to BE and not just do.

The Eight-Cow Relationship has focused their entire research on determining how to BE in a relationship. The data continue to point to eight traits necessary to sustain a happy successful relationship. People express that they wanted to BE with someone who has become the embodiment of all eight traits—who has all eight cows. They want to BE in this type of relationship because they want to BE happy.

Kurt Dowdle