20 – January 20
“An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit.”—Pliny the Younger
“Can’t buy me love,” sang The Beatles. But we can buy its cousin: Praise, which we use as a poor substitute for love. People crave love and acknowledgment beyond all other things. In a survey conducted by Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, employees ranked “Feeling ‘in’ on things” and “Appreciation of work” as the number one and number two benefits they wanted most from their jobs. Higher wages ranked a distant fifth. We want to feel included, we want to be special, we want compliments, we want attention.
When we don’t get it, we go shopping. We buy things to make us noticed, to get praised. Women buy clothing, jewelry, shoes, handbags, scarves, and makeup to be beautiful, to be admired. Men buy cars, electronic equipment, tools, hardware, businesses to be powerful, to be admired. The problem is that after everyone has “oohed” and “aahed” over our fabulous purchase and we’ve had our fix of the praise drug—the rush is over. It isn’t long before we need another fix, another dress, another car. The praise is over—but the payments aren’t. We’re stuck with endless monthly bills for items that don’t get us any more praise, but still we need more praise. So we charge the next fix on our credit cards, even though we’re ashamed of ourselves for spending more than we should. It is a habit as destructive as drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes.
Now we have a cycle of buying praise and feeling shame for doing it. The worse we feel about ourselves, the more praise we need to buy. So credit cards in hand, we shop again. “Love me!” the silent scream floats beneath the surface of our ocean of debt.
The solution? Look for love in better places. It isn’t in the new shoes, it isn’t in the new computer whiz bang. Love is in the eyes of a friend, who’s happy to see you, regardless of what you wear. Praise comes from a customer or boss you’ve served above and beyond the call of the ordinary. Acknowledgment is what you give yourself as you master your spending and pay off your debts.
Send out a ship into someone else’s harbor today. Reach out with love to compliment someone on their thoughtfulness, their kindness, their ability to love, or the light in their eyes instead of their new dress. Do your job better than you’ve ever done it—every menial task. Be extraordinary by putting just a little extra in the ordinary. Send out love and love will come sailing back to you. You can’t buy it. You just have to practice it.
“I am peaceful and content with all the riches in my life.”
In the last several posts, I have referred to the importance of looking good. We want to shine, to show our best selves, to get compliments. We want to look gorgeous, talented and successful.
Make no mistake, the marketplace wants that, too. On average, good-looking people make higher salaries than normal. A study published in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences finds that the attractiveness of interviewees can significantly bias outcome in hiring practices, showing a clear distinction between the attractive and average looking interviewees in terms of high and low status job packages offered.
“When someone is viewed as attractive, they are often assumed to have a number of positive social traits and greater intelligence,” said Carl Senior and Michael J.R. Butler, authors of the study. “This is known as the ‘halo effect’ and it has previously been shown to affect the outcome of job interviews.”
When you watch television shows, especially shows with a number of young twenty-somethings, how many of them are unattractive? It colors our thinking in everyday life. But look around you as you walk down the street or shop at a grocery store. Most of the people you see are just average in appearance.
But some stand out anyway. They have an energy, a charisma beyond their looks. They smile at you and nod. They’ll ask, “How are you?” and wait for your answer. They look genuinely interested…because they are interested. They are engaged with you. It’s been said of President Bill Clinton that when he spoke with you he made you feel like you were the only person in the room. People love that. So do that, and it won’t matter what you look like. The ability to genuinely like people and engage them trumps beauty every time. And yes, you can learn this – inner beauty is within everyone’s grasp! Reach inward to develop it and reach outward to perfect it.