Do you find meaning? Or, do you create / inject meaning into the thing?
Most people spend a lot of time thinking about where they derive meaning. Perhaps they get deep meaning out of journaling, creating, and spending time with their families. Perhaps they get great meaning out of their hobbies or even their profession. They’ll say to people that they get great meaning out of these activities, that these hold the keys to their lives. Are we deriving great meaning out of these things or are we injecting meaning into these things? Behavior, the things we do, are generally what define us. Our habits, not our thoughts, are us. We are the ones who give meaning to certain activities because we put the meaning in there. Through our creativity, through our time, through our effort, through our care we inject meaning into the important things in our lives. In fact, we are meaning creatures, always seeking out what meaning there is to what someone said, what someone did or didn’t do, whether someone owes us an apology, who did what to whom. Truthfully, it is the meaning that can be the cause of the high drama in our lives. Without meaning, there is no drama. It evaporates. So, do situations themselves create meaning? Or, do we? It seems that the source is us.
Our meaning typically has good intentions. We’re looking out for people, trying to help them, trying to make things happen for them. We think we get great meaning from our relationships, but what we are really doing is investing meaning into our relationships. One of the best things you can do in this life is invest in your relationships with others. Believe in other people. Take time for other people. Encourage other people. Take them out to eat. Or, cook for them. Get to know them better than the usual surface level, superficial conversation so many of us have. Deep relationships are rare these days, and that’s not a good thing. Deep relationships are tight bonds between people that go far deeper than what most invest in their relationships today. People are craving these tighter bonds with others.
Have you noticed how attention-starved nearly everyone is today? I postulate it is because of all the scratching-the-surface-level relationships we’ve created. No one knows that much about anyone today except what they had for lunch. Ironically, we’ve got more data on everyone more so than any other time in human history and yet no one knows each other very well. Many claim to have no friends. How sad. You should get outside and go meet people. Leave the screens behind and go meet people. Pick a hobby and go meet up with folks of similar tastes and preferences. There: instant friends.
We beat attention starvation — even addiction — through deep connection to others. That’s what we’re really lacking: deep connection. So, instead of wonderful, valuable connections in our lives with people who matter to us, we stay indoors, connect to screens, and try to derive meaning out of these superficial relationships. There’s little to be found there. While creating deep connections might be possible in the online space, so many of us have an understated desire for face-to-face, in-person connection. Say, getting dinner together in person instead of eating in front of a screen like you always do. Creating deep connections today wins.
We’re too quick to break engagements. Easiest thing in the world is to send someone a quick text, tell them you’re sorry, but you can’t make it, and then be done with that invitation to something potentially fun and in-person. Naturally, these cancellations, when added up, hurt our relationships, sometimes going so far as ending them. Yet we flippantly cancel as easily as pressing a button. Think about the potential harm adding up in your relationships by always bailing on peoples’ invitations. There’s also the subtle guilt and anxiety that bubbles up each time you bail on someone. You bail enough times, and you can count on the invitations going away. Yes, things come up. Everyone’s too busy. Got that. But sometimes our efforts to be there for people, live and in-person, are lackluster. We can do better for the important people in our lives.
One great idea for being a connector of people (should that be your ambition) is to become a great host. Hosting others is a wonderful way to build connection with people. Become known as a great entertainer, someone who brings disparate people together who otherwise would not have a reason to come together. People admire a great party host. The host opens up her home to friends and acquaintances, bringing everyone under one roof to hang out and get to know each other better. There’s no reason to be socially anxious about doing this. Start with your own circle of friends. Only invite who you want to invite. After all, you’re the host: you control the invite list. If you’re still not sure, start small. Start with four friends, but try to include someone who doesn’t know everyone well or is new to the area. They will thank you so much for the invitation and the get-together. New people love invitations like this. And everyone wants to feel included, a part of the group. Switch up the hosting duties so that you don’t overwhelm yourself. Try a monthly rotation. Bringing people together regularly is a great way to build friendship and deep connections.
Another great way to build friendship, community and deep connections is through volunteering. I know — everybody’s busy. Got it. But everybody has a cause they can donate some time to. It isn’t that hard to schedule in a few hours per month. That few hours’ per month is enough to build new connections, to see and be seen, to work on something else worthwhile, and to go deeper with people you otherwise would not. It will also serve you to see things from a different perspective than you normally are in your day-to-day life. Not everyone has it as good as you do. This is an important reminder that everyone is fighting a battle that few know about. This is a way to get to know of someone else’s battle, their hardship, what they’re going through. It is a great way to build empathy for others.
One of the best ways to connect with others personally and professionally is to join a Mastermind group on your topic. It could be sales. It could be marketing. It could be science-related. It could even be within the social space. Connecting with others in a common, shared interest, even obsession, is a wonderful thing for our psyche. It proves to us that there are others like us out there with similar tastes, preferences and goals. We’re striving after the same things. We aren’t competing. We are collaborating, which usually results in far higher levels of creativity than we can achieve on our own. Plus, the creative energy we derive from these style of meet-ups is far beyond anything we can muster from working alone. These mastermind meetings are hotbeds of creative synergy, of bringing the topic masters together. If you haven’t been to one or don’t really have a perspective on one, imagine being in a room full of people who are passionate about your topic of expertise, all offering it up to others in the room with no expectation of return or compensation. They are simply there to help others be successful. Now, how would you feel about contribution and sharing what you know in a room like that?
“Life gives to the givers and takes from the takers.”
— Joe Polish
A great irony of life is that we get far more by giving than we do by taking. Giving gives us a sense of contribution, of sharing, of creating something larger than ourselves. All of us are blessed beyond comprehension. We have it so much better than our ancestors did that it isn’t even close. Our lives are so much easier by comparison, even when we go through our struggles. By focusing far more on giving than we do taking, we put others first. When we put others first, we focus on giving value first upfront with no expectations. We’re ready to give. We expect it out of ourselves. And we set a great example for others to follow. Plus, we’re exuding our belief in abundance and power. There is great power and abundance in giving first without expecting anything back. The subtext is that you believe in abundance and in making things happen for other people. This is fabulous positioning for you, especially if you’re in sales. Nobody wants to be around the cliche salesman who is always taking from everybody. Why not be the salesperson who is always giving to everybody? This is the guy you want to be around. This is the guy who is looking out for his customers. This is the person that is not all in for the money. People can sniff out takers easily.
Who do you want to be?