My girlfriend Karla established a rule for her two small children to encourage them to be more loving with each other. The rule went like this: If one of the children was hurting for any reason (sickness, hurt feelings, or injury) it was the responsibility of the sibling to sit by, and soothe and comfort the other until the pain had passed. Each time Karla would witness this behavior she would give the empathetic child a candy. This began quite a wonderful relationship between the two children.
Then one day, Karla babysat my then 3 year-old daughter. Seeing the rewarding process, and wanting some sweet treats too, my daughter proceeded to push the little boy. When he fell, my daughter looked up and held out her hand. She anticipated getting a yummy piece of candy! In her childish interpretation, my daughter had missed the most important part of the lesson! We can all laugh about it now years later.
Sometimes as adults we are just as confused about what will bring us positive results. We miss essential pieces of the equation. Sometimes we focus so much of our energy on the END result that we miss who we could become through the journey - which is the biggest reason we're here!
The character traits - empathy, compassion, encouragement, kindness . . . those are the gold nuggets . . . are you cultivating them or just holding your hand out for a yummy piece of candy?