Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Importance of Personal Relationships

I recently was forced to attend a mandatory meeting at my company to go over financial information. I assumed this was a selling-type of thing. "Oh, you need more insurance, and someone to look after your finances. We offer those products. Blah blah blah." Well, I was mistaken. The meeting went really well, all of the services were/are free, and they gave really great advice. All of it made sense, and none of us were doing it. I won't go into particulars on this post, but one thing he mentioned really stood out, and it was extremely unorthodox and off-topic. It was extremely important, though. The man said, "The most important thing you can do about retirement is cultivate personal relationships. I have seen many, many people retire wealthy and be extremely unhappy because they didn't have any relationships. They were lonely." It got me thinking.

I have a habit of cultivating strong relationships. It started out as just needing someone to talk to and constantly needing approval. I was a very shy and insecure kid. Nothing was wrong with my parents or anything; it's the just the way I was. I focused on academics and making sure my teachers, my parents, and nearly everyone else was proud of my accomplishments. I made personal, strong friendships so that I could nurture that same need for approval growing up. It wasn't until about eight years ago that I started weening off the strong relationships. I decided that I needed to be able to do things solo, for myself instead of others, and to try and make it alone without being on constant "welfare" from friends and family. And it worked, too. I was hurt at the time, so I decided to cast everyone aside, and I was moderately happy and proud of myself for finally "making it" in the real world. But, something was missing. The relationships. 

I actually, surprisingly, enjoyed making friends, keeping friends, and spending time with people in general. It's what gives me strength, but the time spent alone has also let me appreciate silence and time to think. I have been very good friends to several people, and it has paid me back ten fold. Even today, one of my neighbors told me ways to get free gravel for my driveway, and naturally, I'm going to completely redo my driveway and some of theirs as well. I have countless tools and items from them I have borrowed over the years, and vice versa. It's nice to have a security blanket simply by investing in people. 

In the end, being nice to people is what started this journey. There's nothing more rewarding than to see a genuine smile come across a face of someone you've helped in some way. Whether it's just holding a door for someone with their hands full, helping an older lady cross the street, helping someone whose bag just burst open at the grocery store, or even helping someone with something heavy. I urge you to try this, just once a day, and see how much better you feel. It's a truly rewarding sensation.

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