Getting Down to What’s Really Important
‘Tis the season for creating holiday wish lists. Toys. Clothes. High tech stuff. Dream vacations. Even household appliances.
All great stuff to find under your Christmas tree, next to your Hanukkah menorah, or wherever they may appear. But I’ve found that as I’ve grown a bit older, my holiday wish list has morphed to something, well, more amorphous.
I really don’t need more stuff. Actually, I prefer to pare down and give things away to charity that are no longer useful and just take up space. It’s freeing to have less clutter underfoot. And my basement looks a whole lot better for it, too.
What I wish for now is something that’s both more and less substantial at the same time.
More substantial as it contributes to my happiness by providing a sense of living a fuller life. Less substantial because it isn’t about “stuff.”
It’s about people. Interesting and accomplished people who enjoy exchanging ideas, experiences, and philosophies. People who are creative and caring, who take charge of their circumstances, no matter how difficult, and build new enterprises and lives for themselves and others. People who also value friendship and who are making the world a better place just by being in it.
We can all use people in our lives like that. People who value quality over quantity, substance over show. They’re not about showing off wealth or career highlights. If anything, they like to fly under the radar and just connect with others on topics that matter to all of us: family, friends, and our place in the world.
Like Bob, a down-to-earth kind of guy who likes to run out and get ice cream with his kids. Oh yeah, he makes a lot of independent films, too, but that’s not what he wants to talk about when he meets you.
Like Sarah, who’s battled breast cancer more than once, yet keeps a positive attitude and is more interested in knowing what’s going on in your life than in telling you about hers.
Or Matt, who swapped out his corporate suite for a home workshop, where he crafts beautiful handmade furniture that he enjoys selling at arts festivals around the country. He’s always been a people-person. Now he meets folks from all walks of life.
The older we get, the more we hone in on what really matters to us. OK, not everyone may feel this way, but it does seem that the fluff falls away for most of us as time goes by. We get down to the basics. After all, how much stuff do we really need? The true gifts are those things that really makes us happy and gives our lives meaning.
Friends. Family. Meaningful work. Charity. Good deeds done spontaneously for others. These seem to make most people truly happy.
So my holiday wish is to expand my circle of friends and acquaintances with these types of folks.
How do you go about meeting them? Simply enough, you start out by being open to meeting new people. Networking – even on Zoom! – at events, meeting friends of friends or other acquaintances through business or personal events, or even through mutual interests enjoyed together. We can still do this through online groups, but in-person is better, if and when you have the opportunity. Hopefully, 2022 will offer more human-to-human interaction than we’ve experienced these past two years or so.
Keep a positive attitude and listen to other people’s stories. We’re all natural storytellers – it’s been humanity’s favorite way of communicating for eons. Everyone has a journey, things they’ve learned on the way, mistakes they’ve made, successes, and disasters they’ve narrowly adverted. Or not. When you meet someone interesting, see how you can be of service to them. Perhaps you can introduce them to others whom they might enjoy meeting, too. Maybe you can offer useful advice (but only when asked!) or share your knowledge or area of expertise to help solve their problem. Just show that you’re genuinely interested in them and what they have to say.
These networks grow organically over time. Friendships and business relationships take time to root and mature. Nurture the ones you value and let those you don’t fall away. Keep negative, destructive-thinking people at bay. We do pick up on the energy of those we keep company with and often unconsciously take it on ourselves. How many times do you feel uplifted when an especially positive person of goodwill comes into the room? Have you ever felt the warmth or happiness sucked out of a space when a particularly negative individual approaches you? It’s real.
And be such a person yourself. (Of course, if you’re reading this, you already are!) Be the kind of person you’d like to meet and you’ll attract them into your life.
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy holiday season!! May you receive all you need and welcome it with an open heart.