Do you think you can make more friends by being interested in other people or by trying to get them to be interested in you? We all know the answer. People are not interested in us, they are more interested in themselves. Alfred Adler, the famous Viennese psychologist, wrote a book ,What Life Should Mean to You. In the book he says, “It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.”
If we want to make friends, should we put ourselves out to do things for other people?
What would happen if we put ourselves out to do things for other people, things that require time, energy, unselfishness, and thoughtfulness?
If we want to make friends, why don’t we greet people with animation and enthusiasm? When somebody calls you on the phone, say “hello” in tones that engender how pleased you are to have the person call. A show of interest, as with any principle of human relations, must be sincere. It must pay off not only for the person showing the interest, but for the person receiving the attention.
I listened to a woman tell a story of her childhood that has had a significant impact on her heart. At the age of 10, she was in the hospital to have orthopedic surgery. The surgery was scheduled for the next day, a Friday, the day was Thursday and Thanksgiving. She was alone in her hospital room. Her mom was a single mom with another small child at home, and no one to do childcare. Consequently, she could not be at the hospital. The girl became overwhelmed with the feelings of loneliness, despair, and fear. She knew her mother was home worrying about her not having anyone to be with, and not having anyone to have Thanksgiving dinner. As the tears welled up in her eyes she stuck her head under the pillow to cry.
A young student nurse heard her sobbing and came into the room. She pulled the pillow off her face, and wiped her tears. She told her how lonely she was having to work that day and not be with her family. She asked the girl if she would have dinner with her. She brought in two trays of food: sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and ice cream for dessert. She talked to the girl to calm her fears. Even though she was scheduled to go off duty at 4 P.M., she stayed on her own time until almost 11 P.M. She played games with her and talked with her until she finally fell asleep. Many Thanksgivings have come and gone since that woman was ten, but not one ever passes without her remembering that particular Thanksgiving and her feelings of frustration, fear, loneliness and the warmth and tenderness of the stranger that somehow made it all bearable.
If you want others to like you, if you want to develop real friendships, if you want to help others at the same time as you help yourself, become genuinely interested in other people. John 13:34-35 says, “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
When has someone impacted your life by taking an interest in you? I look forward to hearing from you.