Dad’s Maxim

Long before Maxim was a magazine with pictures of beautiful women and articles for young men, it was a statement of general truth or rule of conduct.  My dad had a maxim and I don’t believe that I am exaggerating when I say that in my life I’ve heard it thousands of times.  While I’ve only said it hundreds of times, I’ve applied it regularly enough that I know its truth.  “Be nice to people, it doesn’t cost you anything but it can get you everything.”

This statement has been a major ingredient in many of the decisions that I’ve made throughout my life.  Although we live in a world where it is widely believed that “nice guys finish last”, I’ve never regretted my decision to follow this ideal.  The only issue that I have with the statement is that some people tend to focus too heavily on the last part.

The key to the world is give and take: exchange.  We live in a world that is based on currencies and they are exchanged regularly.  Some currencies are physical, like money or products.  Some currencies are emotional like love and respect.  Since most of our thoughts on exchange revolve around purchases, we want instantaneous results when we give out a currency.  This is a system that we understand in the physical world.  The problem is that in many of the invisible currencies, exchanges are not direct.  So people, who were not raised by my father, may read this statement expecting that their niceness will be rewarded soon after it is given.

The thing that I learned by seeing the application and not just listening to the words was that you need to be willing to give with no thought to receiving.  I would almost cut off the last part of the saying but no one does anything without a reason.  My belief in the eventual payoff or karma of my present actions is a necessity.  Although I never know how or when I’ll see my generosity repaid, my experience tells me that it will be paid back in greater quantities than I gave.

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