Wednesday, October 3, 2012

People - an integral part of our emotional experiences

Last year, around the period of July – August, I was anxiously looking forward for the results of annual promotions at work. During this time, a strange thought crossed my mind – what if I am promoted, but with the condition that I cannot share the results with anyone? Of course, I would get all the perks of promotion as per this deal, but the only condition is I have to keep the results to myself. My immediate conclusion was such a deal would be worthless, what value would any reward be if I cannot share it with the world? Consequently, it got me thinking as to why am I so dependent on others to be happy and complete? Thinking further on this, I realized that it is not just me, but may be all of us are dependent on each other to be happy and complete. It is not just happy moments, but it looks like most of our emotional experiences are complete only when shared.

If we pause for a moment and analyze our own emotional experiences, we could possibly arrive at two categories – one which is complete even when not shared and the other which is complete only when shared. Few things which come to my mind as examples for the first category – moments spent with nature, time spent listening to a classic musical composition, time spent introspecting. These are the moments which are complete by themselves, even when not shared with a fellow human being. Of course, sharing these moments with our near and dear ones would add more value to it, but they are totally fine even otherwise.

On the other hand, there is a wide range of emotional experiences we go through each day which are quite incomplete until shared. I have noticed how most Monday morning conversations at work are about what we did over weekend and how we felt doing the same. If one observes Facebook updates, it is easy to notice that most updates are about what one did/what one is doing/what one is planning to do. Isn’t it interesting as to why we post our travel stories on social networking sites? I mean, let’s face it; the world would not end if our friends did not know about our adventurous 100 km ride over the weekend!! But, our whole experience of the ride is incomplete until we share it with our network of people. And when they reciprocate, it adds further value to the whole experience.

To be honest, I don’t understand as to why sharing is such an important part of our emotional experience. Have tried to understand this, but with little success. But, I know for sure all of us do it, knowingly or unknowingly. For good or bad, most of human emotions are designed in such a way that they are complete only when shared. To what extent one shares definitely differs from person to person. One end of the spectrum of people might want to share every single emotion they are experiencing and the other extreme might want to share only life changing experiences. Again, social networking sites are a good place to observe this trend.

Now, knowing that sharing is a critical part of the whole emotional experience, it makes sense to have the right set of people around to share them with. It is important that our world of people understand and appreciate our experiences. Of course, it is equally important that we reciprocate appropriately when we are needed to complete and add value to their emotional experiences.

Ultimately, people are an integral part of our existence - our family, friends and relatives. Personally, with this understanding, I am learning to value and appreciate relationships better. I feel it is worth spending considerable amount of our time and energy on building new relationships and sustaining and nurturing existing ones. It makes total sense to prioritize this activity in our almost always hectic lives. So, the next time a friend calls to have a quick chat and I am in the middle of some other activity, I hope I would take the right decision on which activity to put on hold and which one to prioritize.