The fundamental precondition for survival, growth, and happiness - is to make a place for yourself in this world.
When you spend time on anyone (people), anything (opportunities), anywhere (community/office/business) - the return on your (time) investment should be that you carve out a wider,T deeper, and meaningful ground for yourself in this world.
You may ask, why? The simple answer to it is, that the world is full of randomness. When you reach out to anyone or anything - you are trying to build harmony. Building harmony is the way to live & work happily in your environment.
This dawned upon me, when I was analysing over the past few weeks - that why some social, personal, and professional encounters are always rewarding and fulfilling, whereas others are always frustrating & full of emptiness.
It was also during that period, that I chanced upon meeting an friend over lunch near my office. I was appalled to hear that she went from relationship to relationship, jobs to jobs, and one business venture to another - and was caught up in that endless loop. After listening to her grievances, I tried to explain to her why she was failing, despite being such a smart lady. I asked "Are you aware that there is something broken in your thinking, that is defeating you everyday in life". She smiled with a childlike nod, not understanding my question. I explained to her that she had a tunnel vision, and that she thought every person and thing was transient in life. In other words, she never saw a lasting value in anyone, and never tried to make a place for herself wherever she went. She has now wasted at least 9 years of the life that I have known her (since my University days). That is the sum total of focusing on the entropy and randomness, the chaos and problems in life - instead of finding solutions and building roots.
At a macro level, making a place for yourself is more crucial, let me explain.
I have relocated to 3 countries since my childhood where I spent significant years of my early life, changed jobs, and taken degrees in universities - but I realize the most fulfilling times were those when I could build harmony in my environment, and make a place for myself.
Professionally, I stayed in jobs where my bosses and seniors reciprocated to my efforts, and my career grew. In jobs where I noticed that management never made an attempt to recognize any of my efforts, I was disconnected and eventually left.
Speaking personally, I am married, which is to say that I am no longer meeting new women. I still make new friends. The only ones who have stayed on my contact list are those who reciprocate to a pure, affectionate, and platonic friendship. When I met a stranger on my previous flight, who turned out to be a family friend (and she is married, and a brilliantly good looking girl) - we just met as strangers, but over the next few months of our inadvertent conversations we found a lot of common ground. We keep in touch, we talk about her soon to arrive baby, about our parents and she visits them. As compared to anyone else living in Indore ( my parent's city), she brings so much more happiness to my parents when she travels and spends quality time with them. My parents are beaming with a happiness in every pic she sends. She has taken so much lonliness away from my parents, and given them a reason to smile. Thank you Iram, and I know you may not read this.
At a micro level, this applies too but not very visible, you may find this a bit of a diluted example, but I still prefer to share. Take an example of my gym. It is one of the biggest and most well equipped gyms in Singapore. When I enter, there is a host of gym attendants at the recep. I give them my Membership Card, they swipe it and confirm my entry. In the past 3 years, never for once has anyone at the recep looked at me in the eye and welcomed me with a smile or my name which is written on the card & flashed on the screen. The only occasional person is my consultant, who diligently shakes hand with me and reminds me when my annual membership is due for renewal. We exchange a few words about how are things, how are the kids and family doing. Then I go to the next floor to get my towels, before entering my locker room. There stands an elderly gentleman manning the large counter. In the first few days I got the same (cold) response from him, then over time I started greeting him with "Good Evening Alan". Now everytime he sees me, he smiles warmly, promptly takes out the towels of my choice, and the locker card, and hands it to me. He knows I don't like dull colored and weathered towels. It is perhaps because of him, that I return to the same gym location even though I have paid nire for an islandwide membership (to glossier locations like Orchard). He makes me feel that I belong to that place. That 1 elderly man's behaviour, has done what the marketing & advertising machinery of the gym could not - it has helped me find a place for myself.