Universal Ethics > Thought of the Month > October 2022

People want to feel special; they crave appreciation, friendship, and love.

Perhaps among simpler animals, having adequate food, sleep, safety, and comfort are enough for happiness, but among humans it is not enough.

You can make a vote for a better world by giving other people what they most dearly want. To show appreciation or devote some time to another person doesn't cost you anything, but it is the most highly valued thing you can give. Give it, and you are more likely to also receive it.

You may have heard the phrase, "as happy as a king." It is a misconception. People assumed that because the king had a huge home, ample food, and servants to do everything for him, he would be happy. But in a kingdom, political change is only achieved through revolution, so he must always be on guard and vigilant. All the biggest problems of the kingdom work their way up the hierarchy to him, and he is expected to solve them. He could well be the unhappiest person of all.

It is likewise assumed that any famous actor, sports star, or billionaire ought to be happy. But those people also have their own kinds of burdens. The billionaire is not satisfied to retire to an "easy life", but instead he wishes to run his own empire; so he lives by a schedule and must show up to meetings just like all his staff. The famous stars likewise have their own burdens; they can have difficulty to know who really loves them and in many cases they suffer a series of broken marriages. Everyone thinks they should be very happy, and when they don't feel any differently than before they were famous, they suppose something must be wrong. In some cases they turn to alcohol or drugs; but instead of fixing the problem it just makes it worse.

The point here is that there is nobody who is so "well off" that they can't benefit from some sympathy sometimes, and that they don't seek appreciation, friendship, and love. Those are things that can't be bought, nor fulfilled by adoring fans who don't really know them.

Everyone wants to feel "special." As a clue to that, consider how popular movies are that present a hero with a unique super power. People watch the movie and empathize with the hero, and feel good when he (or she) overcomes all obstacles to win in the end. The viewers imagine that the hero is adored for his special gift, and imagine themselves in the hero's shoes. And then the movie is over.

What if a person was appreciated for what actually makes him special: not just a unique talent or power, but all of his traits that in combination make him different from everyone else? It would be a world where each person is making each other person feel happier.

For that to work, it is necessary to discover what is special about each person around you. Also, it is helpful to discover what is special in you, so that you can appreciate who you are even when nobody is around to acknowledge it.

This also gives rise to opportunities for friendship and love. These relationships are not just formed at random; they arise because people are special to each other.

So it's a good idea to "be on the lookout" for characteristics you like in other people, and when you spot them, tell them person about it! You can show sincere appreciation at times when they demonstrate any of their special traits. Here are a few things to look for:

Cheerfulness - feels good just to be near them.

Perseverant cheerfulness - makes others feel good even when they don't feel well themselves.

Enthusiasm - excitement for upcoming events that spreads to others

Playfulness - sometimes likes to tease friends or family (but not too much!)

Wisdom and sympathy - source of helpful advice when problems or challenges are brought to them.

Thoughtfulness - thinks of nice things to do for other people without being asked.

Affectionate - makes those whom they love feel loved.

Trustworthiness and reliability - someone you can count on to keep their promises always; not subject to moods or addictions that could get in the way of this.

Fidelity - reserves physical love for only one person and makes that one feel special; related to above 2 points.

Fast thinker - learns quickly to solve problems or adopt new skills.

Fit - Takes good care of themselves; attractive; sporty.

Artistic - beautifies the world around them (may involve a variety of skills from classic art to gardening)

Loyalty - gives time and help to friends and family beyond what they would expect from others outside their group, even at some inconvenience to themselves.

Organized - keeps things on progress at work; effective party planner at home.

Appreciative - a leader at motivating people at work and at home.

Sense of purpose - beyond daily life, undertakes one or more initiatives that draw on their talent in order to improve the world around them; has passion to fill a perceived need even if it is a small one.

Perseverant - continues developing a skill or working on solving a problem even if progress is slow, so long as a reasonable hope exists for success.

Can you think of more to add to the list? Consider your friends and family. Which of the character traits apply to each of them?

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