Guest contributor, Adam “King Joo” Lifshitz, is back and this time he wants to share something that he wrote last year. I thought it would be the perfect thing to share this Gratitude Wednesday given that I so often speak about privilege and being grateful for who you are and humble about that which makes you fortunate. Here is his take on life and what you he strives towards each day.

A simple tip for life
10 May 2013 at 09:49

People often define success to be mistakenly determined by only a few factors; a particular set of skills, a collection of materialistic possessions, a sense of status or fame. To such principles, they also naturally attach a level of difficulty of achieving any or all of the above, often frightened by the long journey of making such livelihoods a feasible reality.

Success to me, however, is defined rather simply, and achieved with the same simplicity. For me, it was never about what I’ve done with my life, but how I’ve chosen to live it, and how that choice continues to fuel my daily progression ; a progression that on its own is worth more than whatever end result people seemingly strive for.

That choice, as you can imagine, is even simpler than the ideal it is intended for, and revolves around the mere trait of being genuinely nice to those around you, irrespective of false boundaries and red tape that society often imposes on us. It’s about letting go, moreover ignoring common flaws such as societal cliques, race separations or age brackets. It’s about simply connecting with people, on whichever grounds available, irrespective of circumstances.

This ideal, oddly enough, was inspired by a good friend of mine when I was growing up in Israel; a friend who I’ve never quite given the credit that was so rightfully due. His name was Niel Bonofil,and at a crucial time of an adolescent phase with all the common implications of popularity and ludicrous clique separations, Niel managed to subtly and completely without intent inspire an ideal in me that would set my moral standing for the rest of my known life. Unlike anyone else around us, myself included, Niel, having just moved from up north to our little town, managed to somehow befriend everyone regardless of what cliques they belonged to or what habits they indulged in. It wasn’t because of his looks, a special set of skills, or a status which never existed due to his fresh arrival; Neil was simply a genuinely nice person, uninterested in complying with the social convention of our time nor aligning himself with a specific clique and their set of ideals. Niel was, simply put, the friend to all, and for such he was respected by all.

What baffled me at first yet amazed me every day thereafter was that for Niel, this was no difficult task at all, as all Neil really did to achieve this ‘status’, was to merely be himself and connect with all those around him on a personal level without regard to their social backgrounds.

From that very moment of realization, I strived to be like Neil, and the proof is in the South African pudding (Jungle oats?).

Everything I’ve achieved in my years in SA can be attributed, one way or another, to what Neil has inspired in me. The friends I have now, from various backgrounds and spheres of life; my working life, and all the people that I deal with on a more formal level; my family,and the various relationships I have within such a framework or even as far as my more intimate relationships, of whichever intensity. Everything worthy that I’ve seemingly achieved thus far has been due to a very simple and really not that secret an ingredient – be nice.

Be open minded, be considerate, be helpful where and when possible. Be compassionate, be understanding, never take a side for the mere act of doing so. Cut the tension between those closest to you, make amends as soon as you make mistakes. Give that second chance, even if it doesn’t always feels right. Strive to change false first impressions of you,and always take pride in knowing that if you continue to do so on a daily basis, you may just inspire someone else to do the same, just as much as Niel has inspired me.

So to end things off, I would like to pay credit that is over 10 years due:

ניל בונופיל, גם אם עבר כל כך הרבה זמן, חשובשתידע שזה הדברים הקטנים בחיים שיכולים לשנות את דרכך למשך הימים. מקווה שאתהעדיין אותו גבר!

 

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