In a recent conversation a friend was telling me about his use of time as a confirmed bachelor, and said: “My time is my luxury”.
I found the expression amusing, but didn’t really appreciate what he meant. I assumed – simply because he doesn’t have any family obligations – that he just lived a devil-may-care kind of life, one social event after the other, because he didn’t have to give an account of the use of his time to anyone else.
Only later did I realize that wasn’t what he meant at all, and how wise his use of the language really was. Before choosing to commit his time to any event or activity, he has a serious look at whether he really wants to ‘spend’ his time on it. He sees his free time as a precious gift, from which he wants to benefit 100%.
So contrary to what I thought, his life is not simply a series of events improvised out of thin air, but instead a series of decisions taken to produce a maximum of precious moments to savor.
And you, where do you want to be more conscious with your choices around ‘spending’ your allotment of time in 2016 ?
I have a handful of people in my life who are always willing to help. Etienne has been reading and correcting the French version of my newsletters for almost 5 years and Ed has been correcting the English version since September.
They get NOTHING in exchange for their help, apart from the heartfelt “thank you” when the corrected version hits my inbox.
The thing is, they don’t EXPECT anything. So why do they do it? I am certainly not correcting their documents into German in exchange.
How many helping hands have been extended to you? The family you can leave the children with when you go away, the friend who’ll come over to move a piece of heavy furniture, the neighbor who’ll take a look under the hood of your car when it won’t start?
Now look at how many times you do something for others. My guess is just as many times as you received help. I believe that there is a perfect symmetry in giving and receiving but not always through the same people! I’ll never be able to pay back Etienne and Ed for their help, but I know I’ve been helping others with something different and they have been helped by others – and we all call it even.
Helping others makes me happy. But I realize that I am not the only one. So every once in a while I reach out to the people who helped me to thank them. And you, how many people are you grateful to?
I wish you a merry Christmas and look forward to sending you “Bubbles of Happiness” after the festive season!
In my seminars on negotiation I’ll often warn the participants, « don’t negotiate with yourself, talk to your clients instead ».
Having heard that, a participant in a seminar shared the following story:
A young man moves into a third-floor flat in a new building and passes his new next-door neighbor in the staircase. His neighbor, an older man, is struggling up the stairs with a grimace on his face. The young man says hello, and gets a curt response in return. He then continues to carry in his boxes, installs his furniture and then realizes that he cannot hang up his pictures because he can’t find his hammer.
The young man remembers his neighbor, and his menacing facial expression. Based on that, he thinks that he must not a be a very pleasant person… probably the party-pooper of the building… a retiree with nothing else to do than to spy on the neighbors… a lonely man, rejected by his own family… the kind of man who knocks on the wall if the music is too loud, or who sends a letter to other tenants to complain about kitchen odors in the hallway.
Already fed-up with having to deal with such a nasty neighbor, he forces himself to knock on his door to ask about the hammer. When the neighbor opens the door, the young man shouts at him: « Go stick your hammer where the sun don’t shine! »
That’s what can happen when you construct a complete story in your head from a fragment of information.
Ring any bells?
When our tap dancing teacher arrived for class she passed a newcomer on the way in and politely greeted him with a « Bonjour Monsieur ». She nearly fell out of her skin when the stranger responded with « Bonjour Sonia » !
She turned and took a moment to scrutinize his face. The hair was more gray than she remembered, but his features where unmistakably those of a young man she had known 30 years ago. It was Claude, initially her tap dancing teacher, then part of the jury for her professional qualification, and for years her partner onstage.
Emotions ran high when Sonia shared (with tears in her eyes) about the memories they shared. The whole class was affected by it.
Nicole – who dances in our class but also in one run by Claude – was the one who had arranged the surprise visit. Her intention was to make two people happy. Instead she touched 12.
Making someone happy is often not that hard. But the intention has to be there and it might take a bit of time to get things in place to make it happen.
So who would you like to offer some happiness to? How about picking up the phone and getting started?
In one of my courses a few years ago one of my participants was called Felice, which means « Happy ».
He was a nice fellow, but I didn’t think much of the meaning and the implications this name might have on the life of the person wearing it. Then I learned Italian, and the name took on a different meaning.
It turns out that Felice is in fact a happy person. Not a « bouncing-up and-down-in-the-street » kind of happy but a « simply-enjoying-the-little-pleasures-of-life » happy. Pleasures like smelling a particular brand of olive oil, tasting good wine or simply spending time with good friends.
I kept on using his name because I liked the sound and the meaning of the word. Thanks to that I realized that I liked being around people who use positive and elegant vocabulary. Things like, « that’s so pretty » to, « this is splendid » and, « what a nice thing to do ». These expressions make me seek the company of those who use them.
Now, I notice that these days when teenagers are surprised by something on a social network they’ll exclaim, « WTF? ». But wouldn’t you be more attracted to look over their shoulder if they said « this is fabulous! »?
The use of language is a gift. And you, are you also attracted to people who use words conveying well-being?