Transactional vs. transformative

Several months ago I saw an infographic comparing what qualities a narrow-minded person has compared to someone more open-minded. The basic idea is that narrow-minded people can’t escape from negative emotions associated with their relationships. Friends are ignoring you, or betraying you. Your significant other doesn’t compliment you enough. Other, less qualified people are getting promoted while you work long hours. The last point on the chart boiled down how both groups interact with the world. A close-minded person views interactions as transactional, while an open-minded person views them as transformative.

This is deeply important, and the kind of question we need to periodically ask ourselves. Do we interact with people because we enjoy their company, or do we want something from them? Money, power, prestige, sex. Many of us have had friends who used our goodwill for selfish purposes. You probably won’t admit to it, but likely¬† you have done the same at some point. This worldview extends beyond people, to animals and the environment. Is the environment something of inherent worth by itself, or do we value it only for the material goods it can provide?

Taking experience as part of a transformation means that success and failure are both important parts of personal growth. Instead of becoming more bitter when our desires are denied, the setbacks make us wiser. To me, it seems to explain why some people at 12 have more grace and common sense than others who are 50. If you’re viewing relationships as a zero-sum game, time won’t be much of a help.

If you view relationships as something more, where both people can grow and benefit together, many other things fall into place. We need not live in a well of cynicism.