Don’t worry, this won’t take more than a few minutes.
You’re busy? Yeah, I know. We all are. It’s the way of the world these days, isn’t it? It can be annoying.
But you’re busy getting things done so that your day can progress well, right? So that life can fall into place the way it’s meant to, the way you want it to. Fair enough. But have you ever really stopped to consider one little thing? Just one teensy-weensy little thing: Life is in relationship! A friend of mine told me that once.
So let’s talk about this for a while. To make life work, we have to be able to work with the people around us. Because that by itself is the major contributing factor to the quality of our lives. It really isn’t all about what we do and where we work and where we study and what we earn or who we know or even who knows us. It’s how we are with the people we know.
In everything we do we have to interact with people. In real time. We must come face-to-face with them at home, in the classroom, on the job, at the New Year’s Eve Ball, at the supermarket — just about everywhere. And when we can’t get along, especially with those we must come in contact with most often (a.k.a family, co-workers, classmates, bosses, teachers, friends), it has a nasty little way of making us downright miserable at least most of the time.
And this is true irrespective of whether we’re on the honour roll or on probation; whether we can pay the mortgage comfortably or can hardly pay at the cash register; whether we’re in line for a big promotion or must sweep in a clean, straight line to get paid. In fact — and this is funny — we actually find it’s better to hardly have food on the table or be the slowest student in the class or be at the bottom of the corporate ladder but be really well-liked and get along with (almost) everyone than to have all the marks and makings of what the world calls success but without a single person genuinely liking us.
Do you find that you’re a little rough around the edges? Maybe a lot? Oh, neither? Wow! Good for you! Then I won’t waste your time any further by asking you to read on if you really need to get going or just aren’t interested. (But if you’re still interested, or can spare the time, thanks for sticking around :-). Maybe you’ll even end up teaching us a thing or two.) But for the rest of us, do we find that we need a little help? Maybe even a little sandpaper?
Consider the following:
- Do you find you get ruffled a bit too easily?
- Do people tend to see you as standoffish or selfish?
- Are people afraid to truly express themselves around you?
- Do you misinterpret the intentions of others regularly?
- Do you get in arguments constantly with certain individuals?
- Do you sometimes wish you were less emotional? Less cold?
- Are you not exactly Mr/Ms. Congeniality?
First things first. “Take the log out of your own eye first.” I know. Cliché, right? Well, think about this: clichés are clichés for a reason! They are repeated and re-repeated because they tend to be true/remain relevant! So how about taking those words of Christ seriously for a bit?
Or how about another version on the same point? Solomon said: “A man that [wants to have] friends must show himself friendly” (Proverbs 18:24, paraphrase mine). If one wants something in life, one often finds that he must make the first move! Do you want a job? Nine times out of ten you must first apply. Do you want a car? A house? Similarly you usually must have things in place in order to handle that new possession when it comes. So, to get good friends, to have good relationships with people, first become the person willing to go out there and take on all the qualities you would like to find in others.
But you don’t like him, right? Or she hurt your feelings in a MAJOR way. Or they are just so annoying! Or you will not condescend to even look in the direction of those folk! And that’s precisely the attitude that will get you NOWHERE. If you continue along that path, do not be surprized if you make no progress at all as far as your relationships with others are concerned.
Make the first move. LET GO of such petty notions. They will only destroy you.
I hardly think I’m being overly dramatic. Do you or anyone you know have the following problems? You got the dream job or the promotion at the office but there’s nobody to share the excitement with, or everyone at the office is dreading the fact that you just got your claws around a whoooole lot more power. You’re prospering but the whole family has it to say that you’re so selfish and domineering and uppity and what not (and deep down you know it’s not their envy talking even if you actively try to convince everyone including yourself that it is). You always look and smell amazing yet nobody ever wants to even sit with you at lunch (or you pick up that those who do are really only sucking up). Your kids hate talking to you about anything. Your parents dread the very moment you step into the house. Your husband just sits and listens when you talk, or pretends to listen and hardly has a positive word to say about you to his friends. Your wife is hardly ever excited to see you because all you do is make her feel like a bother and cry her eyes out at night. Yet on the other side of things you have soooo much going on for you, so many achievements and accolades and earnings! Any of this sound familiar?
You see, humans were made for relationships. All the other things are just, to use a Jamaican term, “brahta” (or “brawta” or “braata”; pick your spelling, Jamaicans!). That is, just detail, extras, icing on the cake — but not the cake itself! And who really wants to sit down to a plate of pure frosting? Mmm! Delicious! …Not really… We’re a communal species. To use another cliché, “No man is an island; no man stands alone.”
And that is true.
So how about we spend a little time together looking at how to really live over the next one or two articles? Come on. Take the journey with me. It can only help you and me. Otherwise we may just find ourselves bogged down under a host of flashy cars, private jets, housing complexes with our signatures being the one used to pay the contractors, C.E.O. positions, Hollywood mansions with Olympic-size swimming pools, TV interviews, truckloads of British pounds in a Swiss bank account and an overwhelming sense of profound loss and great depression.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. (And I’m still not being overly dramatic yet! :-P)