Principles of relationships
I'm only interested in positive and productive relationships with people.
If someone hurts me, it is not worth my time to continue to deal with them, because there are many people out there I can have a good relationship with instead. I only have so much time. Why spend any of it on a toxic relationship?
I am happy to forgive people for their mistakes sometimes, but only if our relationship is already strong. That means we need to both contribute to the relationship productively over a long period of time to make forgiveness worthwhile. Otherwise I'm not going to bother.
One of my top mistakes in life is to be far too open to new relationships. I've let a lot of toxic people enter my life who convey positivity on the surface, but who are negative on the inside. They don't care about me at all. I'm done with that. I've learned this lesson the hard way and I'm not going to suffer through that again.
Some of my friends have experienced some of the same hardships as I have. We are aligned on this issue. I thought it would be a good idea to start laying out some principles of relationships. That way, we can work on this together and build a community of mutually helpful people.
1. Treat others as we would have them treat us. This is important so that people know we are not trying to pull one over on them and we are willing to work hard to establish trust. To do anything else is to create conflict. This is the golden rule, or the categorical imperative, or the rule of law. This is the most fundamental principle because anything else is unstable and can't work long-term.
2. Be genuinely interested in other people. If we actually care about other people, usually we will know how to act right without having to think too hard. A way to do this is to notice what other people do well, and worry less about the stuff they do wrong. So long as they are doing more good than bad, this strategy brings more positivity to the relationship. This one is so important that Dale Carnegie lists it as his #1 principle on how to win friends and influence people.
3. Point out what other people do right. Never criticize, unless they specifically ask us for criticism. People learn if they are trying to learn. Concentrate criticism on people who ask for it, and our time will be well-spent, because they will actually learn from it. When people do something right, it is good to point it out. It makes them feel good and they will learn we can be trusted to help.
4. Help people who help us. By and large it is better to reward people who help us rather than giving them stuff for free. A way to do that is by buying a product or service they created that delivers value to us. If someone hasn't done a good job, then they can ask us for criticism and we can be honest with them about how they could do it better that would make it worthwhile for us to get involved. Charity is actually not a good idea most of the time, because it mis-incentivizes people to be needy instead of productive. Trade empowers people because it's how they learn to be helpful.
5. Concentrate all of our time on being positive and productive. The universe is created by conscious agents like us. We determine the future by what we create. We can create order by creating things that are consistent with the works of others. We can create art by making it beautiful. There may always be people who create chaos instead of order, but if we concentrate all of our time on being positive and productive, then we can out-create them and make sure things keep moving in a better direction. And maybe some of them will learn it is better if they help.
6. Be a role model. We can't force other people to become individually responsible because it is a contradiction. The only way people can learn to become individually responsible is if they do it own their own. However, we can be individually responsible ourselves, and show them what we are doing. That way they can have hope because they will see that good people exist and they can learn how we do it by watching us. We are the change we want to see in the world.
7. Forgive people up to a point. It makes sense to forgive people if they are more helpful to us than not. We need to be willing to forgive people when they make mistakes because we all make mistakes and we need stable relationships that can tolerate error. But sometimes people keep making mistakes. To continue to forgive someone too much actually encourages them to act poorly because they think they can get away with it. The best way to treat these people is to ostracize them, which means to halt communication. They need to learn the hard way that we will not tolerate that kind of behavior. Instead, replace toxic relationships with positive ones. This will disincentivize toxic behavior and incentivize good behavior.
The split between BSV and BCH was a low point in my life. Many of the people who I thought were my friends turned on me in a two week period and started bashing me publicly on social media. They went from friends to enemies in a heartbeat. That was a rough lesson. It made me question everything I was doing in life. It is not something I ever want to experience again.
Since then, I have read a lot of books on psychology, self-help, and religion. I have learned a lot and have made many changes in life. My life is a lot better now and I have only completely positive relationships. The principles I have laid out here are based on some of the books I have read.
Good books include:
- Carnegie, Dale. "How to win friends and influence people (Rev. ed.)." New York: Simon (1981).
- Hill, Napoleon. Think and grow rich: The original 1937 unedited edition. Page2Page, 2019.
- Allen, James. As a man thinketh. Penguin, 2008.
- Peterson, Jordan B. 12 rules for life: An antidote to chaos. Random House Canada, 2018.
- Goggins, David. Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds. Lioncrest Publishing, 2018.
- Maslow, Abraham H. Toward a psychology of being. Simon and Schuster, 2013.
I stopped reading social media because it is almost entirely toxic. I would rather talk with my personal network of outstanding people one-on-one. If I am not talking to one of my relationships, I would rather read one of the greatest books in history. Why would I want to spend my time on anything less? In principle, I think social media can be great, but it should work differently than any of the popular platforms. I am optimistic that PowPing is creating a better platform that will enable to me to have more positive relationships with people. I am happy to try it out.