Life Is The Sum Of Millions Of Individual Interactions

Life Is The Sum Of Millions Of Individual Interactions
  • These moments — which usually involve an exchange with another person — give your days a positive or negative charge. 
  • Even brief interactions count, such as exchanging a smile or greeting while passing someone on the street.
  • You absolutely can control your next interaction with another person. No matter how bad of a mood you are in, you can make a conscious choice to add a positive spin to your next conversation.
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Self Improvement

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Are You Fully Charged?

by Tom Rath

MORE IDEAS FROM THE BOOK

When The Pursuit Of Happiness Backfires

Pursuing happiness for loved ones or for your community is a worthwhile goal. But trying to create happiness for yourself can have the opposite effect.

The more value you place on your own happiness, the more likely you are to feel lonely on a daily basis. Seeking your own happiness and nothing else results in feelings of futility. But if you spend as much time creating meaningful interactions as you do pursuing happiness, you will be better off in both areas.

TOM RATH

"Meaning does not happen to you — you create it. One of the most important elements of building a great career and life is attaching what you do each day to a broader mission."

  • You should be able to spend some time every day engaging in activities that energize and recharge you; it takes only a few moments to make a day more productive and fulfilling.
  • Even in the worst situations, you can find opportunities for growth. The key is to shift your focus away from what others do that hinders you and instead seek out small things that enable you to make daily forward progress. 
  •  Even if you are stuck in a job that is far from ideal, you have the ability to create a little meaning on the side (for example, volunteering in your free time).

Creating meaning is an evolutionary process that grows by the day, as opposed to a grand purpose that suddenly falls in your lap. 

Small wins generate meaningful progress. You might create a small positive charge for one of your customers today or work on a new product that will benefit people in the future. Over the weekend, maybe you’ll have a long conversation with a loved one that makes a difference. It is these little moments, not grand actions, that create substance and meaning.

Tom Rath

"Your overall satisfaction with life certainly matters. But you create meaningful change in moments and days, not years and decades. It is easier to improve your own happiness — and the well-being of others — when you focus on doing it right now. Taking small, meaningful actions today is the best way to make changes. And eventually, these small changes will lead to important long-term outcomes."

TOM RATH

"You create meaning when your strengths and interests meet the needs of the world. Knowing your talents and passions is critical, but that is only half of this supply-and-demand equation. What may be even more important is understanding what the world needs from you and how you can productively apply your strengths and interests."

<p><em>"The only shadow you sh...

"The only shadow you should live in is your own. You were born with unique traits and influenced by people who helped you become what you are today. To do justice to those who have invested in you, the challenge is to live the life you want."

Work As A Purpose, Not A Place

The future of work lies in redefining it as doing something that makes a difference each day. Work is about productively applying your talent.

A healthy relationship between an employee and an organization starts with a shared mission, meaning, or purpose. A 2013 study of more than 12,000 workers worldwide found that employees who derive meaning and understand the importance of their work are more than three times as likely to stay with an organization.

The Three Keys to a Full Charge

Three key conditions differentiate days when you have a full charge from typical days:

  •  Meaning: doing something that benefits another person.
  • Interactions: creating far more positive than negative moments. 
  • Energy: making choices that improve your mental and physical health.
Viktor E. Frankl

“Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy.'"

  • The average worker loses 28 percent of each day to distraction.
  • Only one in five workers report having the ability to focus on one thing at a time during a workday. 
  • On average, people spend about half of their time thinking about something other than what they are doing at any given moment.

What’s even more disturbing is that this is not pleasant mind wandering; instead, the distractedness tends to make them less happy.

Want What You Already Have

The best way to produce sustainable increases in well-being is to appreciate what you already have and to continue creating new positive experiences with the people who matter most. 

When you value what you already have, not only will you grow, you won’t feel the angst of wanting more. Any time you create experiences in the context of your existing resources and relationships, it has a compounding effect on your well-being.

Put Your Own Health First

Doing things for others and living a life of meaning is important. But without energy, you can’t do your best work. 

If you want to make a difference for years to come, you have to put your health and energy first.

We need at least three to five positive interactions to outweigh every one negative exchange. Bad moments simply outweigh good ones.

Whether you’re having a one-on-one conversation with a colleague or a group discussion, keep this simple shortcut in mind: At least 80 percent of your conversations should be focused on what’s going right.

  • Extrinsic motivation is when you do things primarily to receive a reward. You might take a new job because of the higher pay and better benefits package.
  • Intrinsic motivation — or deep internal motivation — is much richer. You are driven by what you yearn to do even if there is no reward or compensation. 

Meaningful work is driven by intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, motivation.

TOM RATH

"The pursuit of meaning — not happiness — is what makes life worthwhile."

While there is some overlap, the differences have clear implications for how people spend their time. 

  • Those who pursue happiness are what psychologists call “takers.” 
  • In contrast, people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others.
Purpose Before Busyness

The result of trying to be busy is a poorly managed life. If you are busy throughout the day and bouncing from one thing to the next, you’re probably not focusing on constructive activity.

You are also probably not giving your full attention to the things that matter most, from working to spending time with your family.

  • People who spend money on experiences are happier than those who spend on material things.
  • People who spend on other people end up happier AND it makes someone else happy too.
  • Share the things you are planning with other people because anticipation increases well being. Give people the chance to anticipate great experiences. (Planning a vacation can often lead to more happiness than the vacation itself.)

One of the downfalls of the “follow your passion” advice is that it assumes that putting your own passion and happiness at the center of your world is what leads to meaning, fulfillment and joy. That is often not the case.

Those who make a profound difference, in contrast, begin by asking what they can give. Starting with this question allows you to direct your talents toward what matters most for others.

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Bruce Feiler

“Perhaps the most important thing I learned in more than a thousand hours of interviews is that a life transition is a meaning-making exercise.”

We're Not Wired To React Unemotionally To Information

Numbers and statistics are necessary and great for exposing the truth, but they’re not enough to change beliefs, and they are almost useless for motivating action.

The huge amount of information we are receiving today can make us even less sensitive to data because we’ve become accustomed to finding support for anything we want to believe, with a simple click of the mouse. Instead, our desires are what shape our beliefs.

Feedback is backward-looking and corrective. It doesn’t allow for exploration or possibility.


Coaching is preparative. It involves less telling and more questioning.

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