Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Three Tenets of Life

When I was single and lived in Manhattan, my friends and I were obsessed with getting the same three things exactly right in our lives:

A great love. (Soul.)
A great apartment. (Shelter.)
A great job. (Sustenance, Mind & Spirit.)

They are the basic components of happiness: meaningful work, a roof over your head, and someone to share it with. No matter in what country you live, in what time you live, these are the big three.

Getting all three to your satisfaction seemed elusive. In my Manhattan days, we would joke that you could have one, possibly two, but never all three. You might have a great job, but a terrible apartment. You might have a great love, but a terrible job. You might have a terrible job, but a fab apartment.

Hence, my amended three tenets of life are:

You need a roof over your head to find your dream place.
You need a job to get a good job.
You need to have loved (and lost, perhaps) in order to find "the love of your life."

The point being: don't hold out for perfection. Jump into the fray. Start the energy. Get your basics working first and then you can get picky.

When you move to a new city or new country, your first priority is to get a roof over your head. You can't be choosy if you have no place to sleep. Rent a "decent" place for awhile. You don't have to love it. You need to learn the lay of the land. Learn your way around the city, check out the different neighborhods and discover where it is you really want to live. If you arrive to a new place and buy immediatly, you may soon come to dislike your neighborhood or stumble upon another one you like much better. You need time and clarity to find your dream abode and are in no position to see anything when you are desperate for shelter.

Same goes for a job. You need to have a job, in order to get a good job. It is a fact of life that you are more attractive to prospective employers if you are employed by someone else. If you have a job, you are considered employable...someone else hired you after all! It also takes away your desperation. If you have a job and are at least earning money and supporting yourself, you won't jump at any job. You are more discriminating and feer to shop around for what it is you really want. Losing your desperation makes you more attractive.

Ah love. The same thing: losing your desperation makes you more attractive. Learn to live beautifully by yourself and love your life as a single person. Then, bring out what my old college friend Jan Heissinger called, "the shock troops." The shock troops are any old guy or girl who gets you out of the house and into the flow of life. Don't sit home and wait for Mr. or Ms. Right to come along. They don't exist and they won't knock on your door. Jump into that fray again. Go out, be social, practice your social skills. Dating helps you to be casual, helps you to have fun and to meet other people. It takes away your desperate edge.

It is hard to work on all three things at once. A roof over your head is the most important. We are talking basic survival here. Then, you can get a job to pay for this roof. With those two down, you can concentrate on getting a better roof and a better job. And, if you are lucky, in the process of doing the first two, love will find you, instead of you having to look for it!

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