This year an enormous amount of my time went into studying one of my favorite new hobbies – economics. I love economics. It is pretty time consuming to sit and push through texts from the forties and sixties about market forces and incentives but I always end up finding incredibly valuable insights that affect the way I think about directing as well as the way I think about philosophy and my daily life.
One of the great lessons that market economics has to offer people in general is that embedded in every exchange is the fact of two people exchanging goods or services in which both individuals regard the good or service they are receiving to be of a higher value than the good they are losing in this exchange.
Think about that. It is an incredible fact of reality. Two people exchange. Both people add value to their lives. The world is a richer place as a result.
I believe the secret to success in life, the secret to having incredible friends, to finding wealth in your career are all based on the principle that the more value you add to the lives of others, the more value you yourself will find being added into your own life.
It isn’t a question of bad motives – or about greed – greed is irrelevant unless it becomes the force which prevents you from adding value to the lives of others. The confusion around the question of greed carries with it the implication that it is bad to think of yourself. If “thinking of yourself” proves to stand between finding the ways you can most effectively bring value into the lives of others then ultimately you will find yourself more impoverished for it. If, however, out of a desire to live a rich life (rich with friends, passions, successes, and even some physical rewards) you can turn that motivation into the force that finds ways for you to add value into the lives of others.
It can be very simple and it can be very elaborate. Listen more than you talk in conversations. People, after all, love to talk about the things which make them feel most alive. By listening to people sincerely, and encouraging them to talk about what they love, you add enormous value to their lives and win their friendship and support as a peripheral result.
The great thing about this pursuit is not that it is the means to some particular ends. It might start that way. Inevitably though, you will find that enriching the lives of those you meet, strangers, friends, and family members, is an ultimate end in itself. Discovering your infinite potential to use craft, language, and compassion as tools toward the end of enriching other people’s lives will make you happier than you could ever imagine.
If you survey your life, you will find that many of the people you adore the most are the people who have most attentively enriched themselves and other people with value. You will find that you were nicest to the people who were nicest to you and who most enriched your life.
Walking into 2013, it has become my mission to continue to always be mindful to how I can try to benefit the lives of people around me – how I can use my skills, my words, and my compassion to make their lives more profitable. I’m trusting that the fabric of the universe is such that this will be both its own reward and pay dividends toward finding my place in the world, among friends and colleagues alike.