Each and every day we interact with each other in a slightly different way than the previous day.
Value is a word that has recently gained a lot more usage it seems, as many businesses, schools, and other professions are being asked, “What value do you bring to me?” Some of us are born to move around, while others stay in the same location. Some of us will be multi-billionaires, others will barely scrape up enough to each day. Some of us will go on to be great teachers of skills, knowledge, and even what not to do. Others will become part of the machine that allows everyday life to function: infrastructure, food, retail, apparel, etc. Even more so, some of us will create our own path, not sure of where it will lead until we have finished that journey, and started another.
Regardless of what life has planned for you, or what choices you make, one thing is certain: you will be judged based on how you present yourself, and therefore how much value you add to others lives. A short note on judgment: our modern society has placed a negative connotation on judgment, and yet we use it every day in many necessary ways. You judge whether or not you should cross the street. We judge whether or not the person in front of you at the store is someone you might like to strike up a conversation with, based on how they are presenting themselves. We make judgment calls every day. There is a difference between judgment and condescending on someone.
With that being said, how you present yourself determines how others judge you. It determines how much value others perceive you as sharing. Are you one to talk frequently, trying to make others laugh, and direct the attention towards yourself? Do you disagree and argue with what everyone has to say? Or are you quiet, more reserved, saving your voice for the critical moments? As a child, I tended to perform more in the former, whereas in the past 4-5 years I have begun to practice the discipline of communication. Wherever you are, be aware that all of us are constantly picking ourselves apart, as well as each other. Not as much as you may presume, but to some degree, we are all watching one other.
What does value mean to you in a world where we push our ideas constantly?
I was recently approached by a few people in a bookstore, where they were discussing organized religion. Shortly after introducing myself, I was asked where my faith stood, and what I believed in. I shared a short description, and they proceeded to inform me that I “needed to seek out” (insert deity or religious figure here) This has happened on many occasions over the past few years, and I have come to realize, if you have strong faith and trust in your belief system, do you not trust that (god) is working out the plan for others as it has for you? In other words, why push or even suggest seeking something out that is bigger than both of us, if your faith has brought you prosperity to said belief system? If you have faith in the big guy upstairs, I trust that you will also have faith that I have a path designed for myself as well.
I mention this, because in society today, we are constantly bombarded with ads, commercials, snapchats, tweets, notifications about this or that. There is an actual phenomenon now called “fear of missing out” and this is caused by the constant stream of information we are exposed to. My psychology teacher said today in class that a study found people who spent more time on Facebook were actually less happy than those who did not. Interpret this for yourself, as it is definitely subjective. However, we must ask ourselves (I hope you do from time to time) “What value is this bringing me? We all have the same 24 hours, and I now ask you, how much of it is used to sow a future you will thank yourself for, and how much time is used to sow seeds that you will wish you hadn’t planted?
Over the past 6-8 months, I have spent a lot of late nights asking myself why human beings have desires. Why are we always striving for more positive, in order to get away from the negatives? Through many videos and readings, (still many, many more to come) I have learned that our purpose in life is simple: treat others how you would like to be treated, and learn, love, and then share. Our logical minds complicate a lot of what is very simple. In providing value to others, we seem to think that the more we push, the more we sell, the more we put in front of someone, the more we help (whether they needed help or not) means more value is being provided. Look carefully at how others perceive you, they may feel different than you expect.
Do you listen to respond or listen to understand?
When someone is speaking, is your mind running around and scavenging up what they are saying so that you can respond right after they finish? Or do you listen intently, take a few moments, before saying something that causes them to think more deeply? Do you ask questions to show interest in someone else, or do you ask to feed your need to know? Are you at the top of your totem pole, always looking down at those who you can teach, or are you constantly learning more, and then periodically sharing when the situation dictates? It is a challenge to continually be humble, and yet still add value to the conversation.
I have learned through thousands of trials and errors, that it is much more effective to say more with fewer words. The less you speak, the more meaningful your words are. The same goes for someone’s time. When you are talking to someone, you are taking their time away, that they will never get back again. It is rare that people take advantage of the precious time we have each day, making the most of each moment. Many of us do not realize how much a few minutes here and there with our eyes glued to our phones adds up to. I certainly have been guilty of wasting time in front of screens. The lessons are still there: I am learning how my brain works, how others brains work, and why we attach and addict to literally everything.
All of this information may be quite a lot, and if you have taken the 4-5 minutes and gotten this far, then you have decided that there is value in these words. Wherever you are, whoever you are around, awareness of your actions, and how you are presenting yourself to others is crucial. The more aware you are, the more selective you can be, and thus be more in control (inadvertently) of how others perceive you. Of course, we cannot control each other, but we can control how we act, and how we act influences how others see us. If you choose to embark on this journey of self-awareness, please be patient, and take into consideration that it is a lifelong process.
Create a wonderful day for yourself and those around you!