Everything you know about your life isn’t your knowledge.
Wherever you come from, whatever language(s) you speak, and whoever you know, everything you learn is in the form of language. Every thought, feeling, and idea that you understand coherently is expressed in the form of a word, a symbol, a sound or series of sounds. Any thought you have is a combination of words someone else has taught you. Even when we come up with new ideas through introspection or failure, our views aren’t “ours.”
Any new thoughts we have are a part of the mass collective consciousness that is constantly being reorganized and recreated by the universe, god, or whatever fits your beliefs. However you look at the world, novelty is a constant. This means that change is also a constant. Change is something that we tend to be against initially but can learn to be in accordance with. The abrasive feeling we have about change, becoming okay with it and the process of learning how to do so are all built deep into our DNA.
With all of that in mind, people are a constant. At one point they were nonexistent, and someday, we may go back to non-existence. For now, we are a fastly multiplying species hell-bent on making this little blue and green dot under our control. From a universal perspective, we are microscopic, and the time we spend alive is but a fraction of a second. From our perspective, having one conversation with one person can take an extended portion of our day.
Obviously keeping our perspective on our level during the day to day activities is ideal, as thinking about how insignificant things like shoelaces are compared to galaxies won’t do much for you. However, always remembering that our problems are tiny, and that life goes on is crucial to living happily and at peace.
Our 100 billion neurons hold a lot of information, from telling our organs how to function to helping us remember dates and stay present in complex conversations. One pathway that might take hours to figure out exactly what it looks like (or maybe it doesn’t exist yet) is our memories of people we have relationships with. Whether they be dear or just met, everyone we know and has known is stored somewhere inside of us.
Creating a connection starts with kindness.
Some of the memories of others we hold may be blocked or wholly destroyed, through physical damage caused by harmful chemicals or traumatic accidents. They may have disappeared through our own conscious or unconscious decision, due to emotional pain that we have deemed “unbearable.” Fortunately for us, there is no such thing as unbearable pain, only the thought that it exists.
As long as you are alive, you are winning. As long as you are alive, there isn’t anything stopping you from being happy. A quick clarification, happiness does not come from stuff, events, or even people. Yes, all of those can be resources to draw gratitude from, which then creates happiness, but happiness itself comes from what you are thankful for. Of course, a huge source of gratitude comes from the people that surround us.
People can be a great source of feeling wonderful, or if we let them, a huge source of pain. How they affect us, is in fact,(wait for it…..) up to us. With that being said, not only starting the relationship off on a good foot is important, just as much as sustaining it. This second part is fairly difficult, and not all of what happens is under our control. Life works in funny ways, bringing people together and apart just as the seasons come and go.
Some people stay permanently, or as long as our lives last. These people are the ones who truly understand themselves, and more often than not they click very well with you. I’ve been fortunate to have several of these types of people over the years. While their goals and dreams may not correctly line up with mine, I know that I will still be friends with them 20 years from now. We may not always talk, but we never let any issues be the reason for not communicating.
Let’s say you meet someone new tomorrow and have had trouble finding the words to say to keep the conversation going. Maybe you find them outrageously attractive, or perhaps you’d like their advice. Either way, there is an art to each discussion. As I say this, I have “failed” hundreds of conversations throughout my life. However, I have learned a lot and would say that I am doing reasonably well at talking to people. I still have a lot more to learn.
Keeping a conversation going is quite simple: people love talking about themselves. Ask questions, and eventually, they will ask you. Of course, remember the layers of privacy; don’t just jump into existential questions and ask for their deepest secrets. Take things slow, start with something basic, like “How are you feeling today?” Whatever you’re talking about, just be kind and considerate. If things are really stale, that might be a sign that it isn’t meant to work out. As you meet more and more people, recognizing this will become easier.
Life is a balance of giving and taking.
Recently, I have made some significant life changes. Some were my decision; others weren’t. The most prominent lesson I have learned is that life is about balance. A balance of conversation, a balance of emotions, a balance of sharing and receiving. Give too much, and people start to expect it and take advantage of it. Take too much, and everyone sees you as a moocher, and don’t want to associate with you. If anything, being on the end of giving too much is a far better hill to stand on.
Giving too much can be seen as kindness or desperation. Some people will see that, take as much as they can, and run. Others will be hesitant even to approach you, for they may be self-conscious about their ability to give. Giving too much and being taken advantage of can be avoided, if you know what people are looking for (you can usually see this in their eyes, or get a funny feeling), and if you forgive them in advance. They are lost internally and believe that taking blindly from others will help them in the long run. Be patient with these people, as they are who need help the most.
In a short book called The Go-Giver , there are five laws to stratospheric success. This can be understood in business terms, but any and all business comes down to good relationships. Without giving a full summary of this book, the law I would like to touch briefly on is the “law of authenticity.” “The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.” Practicing technique and different ways to talk is always good, but what people want is the real you.
I have been fortunate to stumble upon several people in the past few months who are not only patient with me as I realize my place in this world, but who have placed a high amount of trust and faith in my ability to help them, even when we aren’t making money. This kind of trust, relationships built not on transactions, but mutual respect and shared values, are connections that will stand the test of time. Once you stop looking for these kinds of people, they fall right into your lap.
Be the reason someone smiles today, and you never know, they might just be a life long companion.