2022 October 25 Being content

Oct 25, 2022

Hello everybody!

Thanks for joining me tonight to talk about Dale Carnegie, of all people, and being content.

So Dale Carnegie. He was born in 1888, wrote perhaps his most influential book in 1936, died about a year after I was born, and is still regularly quoted in reference today insofar as interacting with other people. His book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, has plenty of timeless advice and it was interesting. I just came across a social media management program that had many stories referencing Dale Carney's techniques. 

Perhaps one of the most succinct and well known quotes is, "If you want to be interesting, be interested." It's pretty simple. He's saying to pay genuine attention to others, and they will think that you are interesting. It's funny how the mind works. At the core of it, being genuinely interested in others really does help you to form closer relationships, whether at work or in your personal life. 

This website had a number of stories about Dale Carnegie and being interested in others, and while they did mention it once (maybe a couple times in passing), I think it's worth revisiting the value of being genuinely interested in somebody. Asking someone how their day went and then half-listening to the response while you're actually planning out your night - that kind of works for casual encounters, but not really - but if you genuinely listen, then it's not only much more powerful, but you may find yourself actually learning about a different way of life that you hadn’t known or perhaps misunderstood. Maybe that logger or that oil driller really doesn't hate the earth and is just trying to get enough money to send their kids to a good school so their kids don't have to work as hard as they do, or maybe your Uber driver really doesn't feel used, and really enjoys the freedom and flexibility of gig jobs. Who knows what you might discover? Perhaps the best listening skill to develop is to listen non-judgmentally. That’s really hard. When someone says something you find distasteful or at odds with your own viewpoints, just keep listening and ask follow up questions to see where it is coming from. When you do that, you may very well find out that their basis has a very different foundation than what everyone said it was. You might actually start to understand a different perspective, regardless of whether you agree with it or not.

And that, dear friends, is the basis of society and culture and true empathy. Remember, familiarity with something helps overcome the fear. There are plenty of commentators and news outlets who will merely tell you what they are thinking, and unless you actually talk to them, you won't really know what they're thinking and that leaves you open to manipulation by people with an agenda.

But the really fun part comes when you, with all your newfound knowledge (by actually listening to other people), when you listen to what others say that group believes, suddenly you realize how much of it's just hearsay, presented either as news or truth, or both. But the real treasure is that you're now learning about other people, their lives, their culture, and most importantly, how to actually listen to them and live together with them. 


You might be wondering what all this has to do with our general theme of living a life of purpose and the life that you define for yourself. Think about how often you're dissatisfied with things, with life, because of what they are doing. It doesn't matter if they are a different political party, different viewpoint on a topic, different race, different whatever. Now think about how much better you might feel if you actually knew and discussed, not argued, but actually discussed, some of the topics you and your friends, your new friends, or your acquaintances, didn't agree upon.

A very good casual friend of mine (I think I've talked about him before) - we are at absolute opposite ends of the political and viewpoint spectrum on pretty much every single topic in the world. It's actually fun. Every time we get together, we get into these huge deep discussions, which cause both of us to really work to defend our positions.

 It also causes both of us to learn a lot more about the other person's point of view. What's interesting is it usually comes down to just a few very fundamental differences that truly are open to interpretation, and otherwise we're pretty much aligned to most of our core values. It's not because he and I are such special people. It's simply a matter of both of us wanting to learn. 

 It comes down to the fact that we are genuinely interested in each other. We're good casual acquaintances. It's not like we hang out all the time, but we're really interested in what the other person thinks. We really want to talk about it and really discuss it.


So back to that self-satisfaction tie in. At the end of every one of our conversations, we always part friends. We both understand the other person a little better, and we both understand ourselves a little better. That's really important because as we age, there's always a ready chorus of voices and social media in the news, sometimes even in person, willing to tell us how out-of-date or even out-of-touch we are in the modern world.

I hate to disappoint all those cutting-edge social reformers, but it really isn't true. There really is a continuum of viewpoints across most any topic, and the views are almost never as binary and clear-cut as the media outlets would have you believe. The good news is that by being interested in other people, and making new friends and acquaintances, you get to see that spread of viewpoints firsthand, and you'll start to feel more comfortable with life overall. You'll feel better because you won't feel as alone. You'll realize that everyone isn't as different as people like to portray, and because you will genuinely have more people in your life who you like to talk to, and who want to talk to you. Like everything, it isn't the perfect answer to every situation, but there's some truth to that old saying, Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. But this isn't to overcome them, but rather to learn about them and have them learn about you. Then hopefully you both won't be so fearful of each other, and you can live a more peaceful life overall, in better harmony, because at the end of it all, we really do have far more in common than we do in difference.


Remember you have two ears in one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you talk. I heard that one a lot when I was a kid. But seriously, I would encourage you to try and be a more attentive listener and in all the little everyday social interactions that arise, ask somebody a question. Then really listen to what they respond to you, and maybe ask them a follow-up question and try to get a little conversation going. Not a prying conversation, but just something to show that you're interested. They will be flattered that you're interested in them and you might learn something that was completely unexpected. A lot of the time, it may lead to nowhere, but many times you'll also meet fascinating people doing amazing things with complex points of view that would still be hidden from you if you hadn't taken a chance to listen what they had to say. You'll feel a little better about the world overall and your place in it.


If you like what you read, I'd really appreciate it if you share it, and if not, please drop me a line as to what you'd like me to cover. :D


Have a great week and remember to live the life that you dream of because that's the path to true contentment. Love and encouragement to everyone, and see you next week on 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com. Thanks.


Please remember the war in Ukraine is still going on, one of the best ways to care for yourself is to care for others, if you can. Please check out UKR7.com. 


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