• Tyler E. C. Burnworth

Who Over What

"It's not what you know, it's who you know."
~ Unknown

We've all heard it before, and maybe some of us have come to embrace this philosophy via networking within our particular industries as a means of professional connection and "working friends."

I believe this saying can be expounded upon in a way that will completely change your life. I know it did for me.

Brief Backstory

I knew I wanted to be a writer from the young age of 7 years old, about the first time I saw Star Wars. A story like that changes you, if you're open to it. I saw the world in the light of a long time ago in a galaxy far away, and I didn't want to come back down to reality. Unfortunately, the credits roll whether you want them to or not.

When the curtain drops at the end of this life and the credits roll for you, there will not be a list of achievements displayed. No ceremonial parade shouting your accolades from the rooftop. Instead, what will be left is the people you leave behind. The people who knew you and were a part of your life. This has a nice crossroads with another famous saying:

"Happiness only matters when it is shared."
~ Christopher McCandless

When the car crash that ends your life happens at this busy intersection, what will your legacy be?

I was a pessimist for most of my life. If you've read some of my other blog posts, that might shock you. I tend to write positive motivation pieces with writing advice and zany sidebars thrown in the mix. I was not always the off-color motivator that I am today. I struggled daily with self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy and confidence with the tensile strength of a stale Gingerbread house.

I'm going to share with you the secret revelation I've had:

The Key To Happiness...

...is being content, where you are right now, no matter the circumstances.

There is no universal panacea I (or any other person with a real medical license) can prescribe to pull you out of a bout of depression. I can't knock on your door to deliver a bootkick to your ass every morning. Pills and meditation and self-help books serve their purpose, but they can't live your life for you. You can. The secret is already within you, lying dormant like a baby dragon egg waiting for mama's dragon butt to warm it up enough to hatch.

Mama ain't comin'.

Take a moment, one infinitesimal slice of all the collective moments that stack together to make the mosaic that is your life, and consider this:

WHAT you have means nothing.

WHO you have means everything.

Think about the people in your life that matter most to you. Your parents, maybe. Your spouse. Your children. Friends and acquaintances. What would your life look like if they were gone?

Would you pursue the American Dream (the accumulation of stuff and money and status) with the same fervor?

Or would you spontaneously combust? Maybe implode with a force strong enough to create a black hole that swallows up the entire spacetime continuum?

Maybe you'd go out for steak and ice cream, in which case I will smile and wave, never uttering the word sociopath aloud to keep myself safe when the day comes you finally snap and go on an unbridled killing spr--no, chances are you're not that evil.

The point is that the people around you are more important than anything else.

Material possessions depreciate over time. They decay. Break down. Fall apart. I'm not a minimalist by any means, and I'm not saying possessions have no value. I'm saying they have diminishing value.

Flesh and blood deteriorates, too. People get old and crotchety and lose their minds (and bowels. Sorry, but it's a scientific fact) on their way out of this life. But, life isn't about death. It's about LIVING.

Connection. With people.

If you love your people, they will (usually) love you back.

Relationships actually appreciate in value as they grow stronger.

Think of a couple that has been married for 20+ years. They can operate with little to no communication because they've gained a deep understanding of each other that transcends verbal communication.

The Path To Contentment...

...is investing in people and fostering strong reciprocal relationships. The human race thrives in the social sphere. The benefits of strong relationships can be enjoyed in any life circumstance at any time. If you lose your job, you still have your family.

Lean on each other. Pour positivity into everyone. Your spouse, your children, friends and family, the booze-scented mendicant clutching at your purse...maybe not everyone. Charity is a great thing that should be celebrated. However, a pinch of discernment is worth a pound of regret.

By focusing on the people in your life and giving them everything you've got, you will find attaining what you want in life will not become easier, but you will enjoy the path a lot more by having developed a natural support system, a safety net and people who will share in your successes (and failures).

Live for the people around you.

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