I know I have heard this expression all of my life, though it may have taken a slightly different form. Maybe, "You are what you eat," or "What comes around goes around," but the essence of the saying always stayed the same. It was probably about 15 years ago, though, when I was listening to an audio tape series called "Lead The Field" by Earl Nightingale, that the reality of this statement started weighing heavily on my mind.
Nightingale told the story of a woman who was lonely after moving to a new part of the country. The woman complained that the people in this area were cold and unfriendly, and she hadn't made any friends with whom she really connected. The woman's husband was puzzled; he couldn't understand why she described the town that way, when he had found it to be quite the opposite. What they found, after examining their very divergent perspectives on the area, was that he was out talking to people and feeding the community with his upbeat spirit, while she had essentially closed herself off from the world.
Over the years I've thought about this story many times. I've thought about how when I am philanthropic, good things seem to flow back to me. And how after inviting guests into our home, we are often flooded with invitations to join others (sometimes to the point that you think of the old Morton Salt commercial...."when it rains it pours!"). Or after spending one-on-one time with one of my children, they'll come and plunk themselves down in my office just to say hello.
After years of witnessing the truth behind the adage, "You get out of life what you put into it," I am sitting here scratching my head and wondering how I ever get caught up in a spiral of selfishness -- but inevitably I do. And I know I am not alone in that because I see it every day -- people who think first about themselves, then about others.
So, after all this rambling that's really not leading up to any big revelation -- let me ask you --
Do you agree that "You get out of life what you put into it?"
What contributions to this life are you most proud of?
What are the non-negotiables when it comes to contributing (i.e. I may not be big on opening my house for a party, but you can always count on me to welcome a new family to the neighborhood.)I would love it if you would post your thoughts in the comments section of my blog so that we could create some lively discussion around the idea. How about some good conversation...'Round the Kitchen Table?
Side Note: If you have never read or listened to anything by Earl Nightingale, I strongly recommend that you do. My aunt introduced my husband and I to him many years ago (through the audio tapes), and I have never regretted the time spent listening -- in fact, 'til this day, I'm truly grateful for it. Whether you are trying to be more successful in business, your relationships, or just life in general -- he has some wonderful lessons to share.