I came across a Dale Carnegie quotation a while back that says a lot more to me now than it might have in the past.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Since my affiliation with the Optic, my world has widened considerably. Yes, I had my “coterie,” made up of family, work, and social acquaintances, students and their families, and of course, my pal, Chien, the dog.
Despite having chosen a profession, teaching, which essentially revolves around social contact, I’ve generally been a private person, preferring somewhat of a closed social atmosphere. Long ago, I discovered the difference between being antisocial and being asocial, and felt comfortable with my asocial self, perfectly content with my small, close circle of associates and family.
To cut to the chase, I have developed a new perspective and appreciate the difference it has made in my functioning. For the past year, with my Dulcey Amargo and Senior Profile efforts, my world has been widened — by you, the people who have become part of my new reality. Simply expressed:Thank you.
Especially in the context of the Senior Profile activity, I have been given the marvelous opportunity to get to know people I might have known peripherally but not closely. Finding out about their interesting backgrounds, motivations, actions, etc., has been incredibly gratifying and eye-opening.
Let me clarify.
At first, a bit paranoid, I worried that my words would resound to few. That fear was put to rest, as you, my audience, gave me affirmation. It’s a great feeling. It brings back to mind principles proposed by researcher Abraham Maslow in his Hierarchy of Needs/Values, which I learned about in education courses years ago.
Basically, the theory says that for humans to develop emotionally, they need to have certain needs met. The physiology (health, safety) needs are the foundations, and as the pyramid structure develops, safety (security), then social needs come into play. From here, in order to be happy and satisfied, the individual needs to develop esteem and self-actualization. Simply stated, one needs to feel liked and to experience success.
Recently, I learned that Maslow added another level — Self-Transcendence, in which people are as much or more concerned with others as with themselves. It involves analysis of reality or knowledge which changes one’s view of the world and of himself, perhaps occasionally, perhaps as a usual thing.
Maslow later studied people he believed possessed the qualities of self-transcendence. He characterized some of these qualities as feeling guilt for the misfortune of someone, creativity, humility, intelligence, and divergent thinking. Curiously, those he studied were mainly loners, had deep relationships, and were very normal on the outside. Maslow estimated that only 2 percent of the population will ever achieve this level of the hierarchy in their lifetime, and that it was absolutely impossible for a child to possess these traits. The statistic is a bit unnerving, but this theory makes much sense, to me, anyway.
Now, back to you. Perhaps all this psychological/pedagogical teacherese sounds like just so much gobbledy-gook. It’s likely, though, that it’s the fiber of your treatment of yourselves, children and others. The law reflects the foundational areas — health, safety, education, general welfare. It is when we extend ourselves as people to the higher levels that we find out how others see us, how we want to respect ourselves — and others.
You (and I, I hope), by responding to the emotional growth of others, contribute to overall happiness and satisfaction for those around us.
Let me emphasize that comments you share with me about my writings have contributed to my self- esteem, but even more to my self-transcendence. In addition, from my interviewing so many interesting individuals for the profiles, Carnegie’s dictum has become a reality for me; you are so important. Mil gracias.
Lupita Gonzales is an educator and member of the Optic Editorial Board. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.