Why do some people seem to get ahead so easily, while others struggle, despite seemingly having all the smarts and talent in the world? Why do some people always seem to enjoy themselves, while others lead lives of quiet desperation? Is there a simple strategy that people might employ to join the positive side of the equation?
Yes. Yes there is. And it’s really a simple intention that will change your life, and likely those of others, for the better.
A Little Background
Shortly after graduating college I had a roommate Marcus, a tall and very thin German man, who, due to an affliction he was born with, never new how much time he had on the planet. He wasn’t the healthiest bear in the woods.
The thing is, you’d never know it by speaking to him. Really the only clue was his refusal to waste time on trivial things, wanting to enjoy life as fully as possible today, as tomorrow was much less of a given.
The more I got to know Marcus, the more I found it impossible to not like him. When I thought of him, my immediate thought- “How can I help him?”
This was in stark contrast to our other roommate Henry, about whom the majority thoughts were of wringing his neck.
Henry was was always seeking to get something from you, to gain an advantage in an interaction. The type of person who borrowed money from you and conveniently forgot.
Marcus on the other hand would make food for himself and bring you a plate as well, without a word spoken. He made a point of remembering everyone’s birthday and making you a card (pre-Facebook this was quite impressive.) If he sliced a piece of pie, he never minded giving you the bigger piece. He was jovial, and positive, and everyone I knew enjoyed being around him.
The Quick Analysis
So what was Marcus’s strategy? To put it succinctly- he left everybody he came in contact with just a little bit better off than when they arrived in his presence.
I’m not sure whether it was conscious on his part, but from watching his interactions over and over, he consistently achieved positive results.
I immediately employed Marcus’ strategy. Does it work? In a word: YES.
Why it Works
First and foremost, when you meet people with this intention, you’re looking for positive, common ground, a way to help out. That’s where you are putting your focus, and like most things, it becomes habitual.
AND It makes others feel better. Maybe it’s just a smile that brightens someone day, a feeling of respect or significance you give them with a sincere compliment, or maybe like Marcus, you help satiate their hunger with a plate of food.
Energy works like a ripple, on both the positive and negative side. You change someone’s day for the better, even just a little, maybe you pull them out of a tailspin. Maybe instead, they take that positive energy and transmit it to someone else. Spread the Ripple.
It’s Actually Science
There is a psychological term for it: social reciprocity– basically, when we do something nice for someone they feel like giving back, to even the score so to speak. In days of yesteryear, the term “Much obliged,” had a nearly literal meaning.
It’s why the Hari-Krishnas at the airport give you a book “for free.”
It’s why veterans charities used to mail you free Christmas Cards or an actual $1 bill.
A large enough percentage of people felt obliged to return the favor in greater amounts that it made it profitable.
So, if you had a successful company, Zuckerberg style, who would you hire, Henry or Marcus?
Who would you rather treat for dinner?
Who would rather help out in virtually any way?
You have the choice in every interaction. Be Marcus or be Henry. People will treat you accordingly.
I assure you of one thing, if you go through life with the intention of leaving everybody you come in contact with just a little bit better off, while it most certainly will benefit you financially in the medium to long run, the immediate and profound benefit of employing this strategy is that it shifts your focus to the positive, and day to day you start feeling pretty darn good.
Try it. The question shouldn’t even be “What do I have to lose?,” it should be, “What are we all going to gain?”
P.S.: I am not advocating using this as a manipulative tool. I’m saying adopt this as a general intention/ mode of being and you’ll yield positive results.