Friday, October 26, 2012

Attaining Social Success

I am an avid reader and something of a self proclaimed book nerd.  As a high schooler I spent my Saturday mornings at the library.  Perhaps that is not what the world would call socially powerful, but let me give you some insight into what I have found about succeeding in the social game that I learned whilst in the stacks.  Firstly, any wise book will improve your social life.  It does this on two fronts - following its counsel will enrich your social behavior and the wisdom it renders will safeguard you from irritating naysayers.  Among the books I've read on psychology and the like there are three that top the social climbing list. 

The Analects of Confucius is not a difficult book to read.  It is very dense sometimes but I know of very few books that can match the counsel it gives in how to deal with people, family, and social intercourse.  It's a great handbook to read and then keep on the shelf.   Number two of my absolute favorite social reads is The Art of War.  It is extremely short and an intriguing read and if you apply the military strategy to your interpersonal relationships it is absolutely invaluable.  It takes you through the whole "If the other person does this, then you do that" and it holds up under fire every time.  But the best work ever written in my opinion on how to succeed in the social arena is found in the New Testament, in the book of St. Matthew chapters 5-7 inclusive.  It is the sermon on the mount. 


When I was in high school I spent hours poring over first 11 verses of Matthew 5.  I would choose one scripture and like Ben Franklin, attempt to master it in my daily life.  Then I would do another and another, then go back and work on the ones I'd done before.  This was my constant focus for many years.   Abiding by these ideas takes you from being the persecuted, misunderstood gawky kid that I was and reminds you that you are in control of your life.  It brings you to the point of being the agent to act and not the object to be acted upon and it gives you a balance to take with you in terms of how to treat others.  When someone reviles us and we turn the other cheek, not out of fear but in strength, they cannot help but respect us and place us on a pedestal.  When we let our lights so shine without arrogance or conceit people take tremendous notice and will treat us like something greater than the average person off the street.  When we refuse to fiercely judge our enemies people know they can trust our friendship and our discretion.  If you want to stay in the merry go round of he said she said gossip ridden social world then go ahead and read Self magazine.  If you want to rise above it and hold your own life in the palm of your hand, engrave those three chapters onto your heart.

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