On the importance of providing value and being open to receive
One of the biggest epiphanies I have had is the importance of giving value. I'm pretty sure that when I was younger I was constantly thinking about taking. How can I make life better for myself? Me, me, me, me, me!
I've tried to shift this to “what can I do to I give value to others?” type of mentality.
Value can be anything. It can be providing good emotions, a pleasant social interaction, connecting people, finding out what somebody needs and then finding a way to provide it to them, etc.
The concept of giving value or taking value becomes super apparent in social interaction. E.g. imagine you're doing street photography and you see someone really cool on the street and ask if you can take a portrait of her. Now, even if I ask to take a photo of her - or him, I can either give value or take value.
On the surface, it might look as if I'm only taking, as in “I'm taking a photo of them”. I get something, and they don't. However, I really try to avoid that. By no means do I want to leave anyone with the feeling that something was taken from them.
If I would just ask for their photo and then run away without saying anything, that's probably taking. If I smile, compliment them, ask them a couple of questions and keep chatting even after “getting” the photo and therefore “make their day better”, that might be more like giving value.
It's important to be able to receive in order to give. Some people think companies are bad and “this corporate” culture is evil. What they often fail to realize is that these companies (not all, of course, there surely are some rotten apples) make money in order to provide more value. They market their stuff > they sell > they make money > they put the money back into the company (create jobs, improve their products) > provide more value.
There's a lot of organizations that have a really good cause but they block themselves off from receiving. They don't market, they don't ask for money and because they're not opened to receive, they can't really give out much. You can't give, give, give and give indefinitely. You can't keep generating value out of nothing, you have to receive as well.
Sure “these rich people” pocket a lot of the money by themselves. So what? Are they bad people because of that? In most cases they deserve it. They've provided tons of value, so is it a bad thing to have some for themselves?
Again, I am aware that there are some people who are not worried about giving and only want to take. I don't believe they last very long.
So, it doesn't work to just take and take and it doesn't work to only give. I really believe it's the law of the universe. If you take, you have to give and also vice versa.