Ask not what my job is but what I am

When we meet new people, we tend to ask "So, what do you do?". Sometimes we do it because we are curious but mostly we do it simply to make conversation. Or when we meet our friends and acquaintances, we often start by asking "So, how's work?" Personally, I'm getting fed up with this line.

It immediately frames the conversation to an often narrow perspective that is purely work-related. I get why we do it and I do it myself all the time - but we are other things than work. I should hope!

I'd much rather that people ask me what my interests are, whether I have an opinion on subject x, if I've read any good books lately, what I had for dinner last night, or what generally engages me for the time being. I'm pretty sure we would have much more vivid and interesting conversations.

One of my old friends always asks "So, how is your soul doing?" For many years I felt it was so corny to ask something like that but I've come to appreciate it. It's an open question that encourages us to reflect, think a bit, feel in the stomach, and yet allows any answer what so ever, be it small talk or big talk.

I'm going to try to ask less about people's jobs and more about what their interests are and what fills their lives. Sometimes there's an overlap between job and interests which is fantastic. Sometimes there isn't and that's fantastic, too. I think we can get into more fruitful conversations if The Job isn't always the starting point.

What counts (often) can't be counted

One of my friends told me yesterday that the company he works for had named him CEO. He was very happy and proud and I am equally happy and proud for him. I know how career matters to him.

But it got me thinking about what matters to me when it comes to friends and relationships.

The thing is, I don't really care whether he is CEO or not, whether my brother-in-law is VP or not, whether my other friend makes this or that amount of money a year, how many square meters their house is, how many kids they have, how big their car is, how many books they've read, or how many iron men they've completed.

None of this makes our relationship more or less important, nor does it make them look more or less important in my eyes.

What matters to me is whether they are happy and whether it makes me happy that we are part of each other's lives. When it comes to my family and friends I'm a sensitive person. These relationships are what brings me most joy in life and also most grief.

To me, what counts in a relationship is how we treat each other and whether I feel that I am as important to the person as the person is to me:
  • That they would stand up for me if I got in trouble
  • That they would be by my side if I got sick
  • That they express interest in my life
  • That they respond to me when I contact them
  • That I feel appreciated by them as I hope they feel appreciated by me
  • That they tell me if I've hurt them or otherwise made them feel let down, and that I feel I can do the same
  • That they take responsibility for the relationship
  • That they would lend a hand if I ask
  • That we have fun and wonderful experiences together 
  • That I am a priority in their life as they are in mine.
Feeling I can count on them is everything. In short: Size of heart, not wallet, rank or achievements.

The (dog's) secret to happiness

“My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?” (Snoopy)