“Love, it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free. Be more like the man you were made to be.”
Mumford and Sons
The recipe for having better interactions with people, making new friends, and becoming the life of your next party is simple.
Every day, I practice being first.
The first to smile. The first to initiate a conversation. The first to ask someone a personal question. The first to admit a mistake. The first to listen. The first to compliment someone else. The first to admit when I am wrong. The first to laugh at myself. The first to apologize. The first to forgive.
98% of the world’s population is eerily similar. We all want the same things. To be loved. To feel important. To connect with others.
One of the main things I have learned from traveling is that people, on the whole, are not bad. They want to connect with you. You simply need to give them a chance.
Sometimes, you need to be the first to show your humanity in order for others to show you theirs.
When I was younger, my family had a dog named Sadie. She, to this day, is the most popular dog I have ever been around. There was not a dog she could not get to play with her. How did she do it?
Her strategy was simple. Every time she came in contact with a new dog, she would lay down on all four paws and completely submit herself to the other dog. She would let the other dog sniff and paw and growl until it became comfortable. Eventually, the other dog would realize she was friend, not foe, and they would run off to play.
We could all learn a little from ole’ Sadie. How often do we work to make sure other people feel comfortable? How often do you initiate the first interaction? How often do we set aside our ego in order to better connect with others?
When you are shopping, do you smile at the person behind the check-out counter? When you are with friends, how quick are you to laugh at yourself or openly admit a mistake? When you are at a party, will you randomly introduce yourself to strangers or are you more concerned about how you might look? Do you ask questions in a conversation, or are you always trying to get your two cents in?
If you extend yourself to others, what is the worst that can happen? Someone does not smile back or is quick to ridicule you? Not likely. People just aren’t that inherently mean. And if someone does respond this way, congratulations, you have found yourself an asshole. You no longer need to worry about what this person thinks or attempt to please them. Life is too short to be spent worrying about assholes.
This philosophy is not something that should only be used with strangers. Try it with the those close to you. Suck it up and be the first to apologize to your spouse after a fight. Be the first at work to admit when you were wrong or when you made a mistake. Be the first to compliment your friends.
The majority of the world is waiting for you to interact with it. People, in general, are yearning for human connection. A smile, compliment or even a “Hello” is a pleasant surprise from how the rest of the world moves briskly past.
So do yourself a favor and step out of your own way.
Be first. You will be amazed at how the world responds.
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