Among human beings trust comes about, not from expressions of wealth or fame, but from our showing affection. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
This quote is about trust, and how we go about earning it. Animals may have a different method, but for we humans, it is pretty straight forward.
The quote lists a few ways that it isn’t earned. Expressions of wealth may attract envy, greed, or other emotions, but not trust. You cannot buy that. All you get are people who are there for the cash and the good times.
It also mentions fame. Fame also attracts envy, greed and a host of other emotions. Fame may get you an entourage, but it that doesn’t mean that they trust, it only gets you people who are there just for the party.
The quote finishes by stating what it believes is the proper way for humans to build trust, which is by showing affection. By showing our affection for others, they begin to believe that we care about them, and that is what builds trust.
Why is affection important?
Affection is defined at TheFreeDictionary.com as “A tender feeling toward another; fondness” and is listed as a synonym for love. While it is a love closer to friendship than romance, it is still quite personal. Yes, you can feel affection for a stranger, or someone you know, but who doesn’t know you.
However, if they show affection to you, that is something that strikes you as quite personal. When it is unwelcome, the feeling is quite creepy. When it is welcome, it can be a wonderful feeling. In either case, you know they care, whether you do or not.
Can you imagine what life would be like if no one showed affection? No pat on the back for a job well done? No congratulations for making something happen? No holding hands or breaking bread with friends or loved ones? That sounds pretty bleak to me. A world without affection would rapidly become a world without trust.
Where can I apply this in my life?
The prior section broached an interesting topic, that of inappropriate affection. Like nearly everything else in this world, there is such a thing as too much affection. As an example, it is usually considered inappropriate to show a great deal of affection to someone you just met.
Yes, there are exceptions to every rule. But there are general social rules as well as personal preference to take into account. Still, there are usually steps to go from a newly met person to a trusted friend. It usually takes a little time, and some are better at this than others.
This quote is the rule-book for the ‘confidence man’ or ‘con man’. They will flatter, show affection, and do whatever it takes to get you to trust them. Then, of course, you are easy prey for their schemes. However, this quote isn’t about tricking people, but by being genuine.
With that caution stated, we can look at this quote from both sides, the side of the person beginning to trust someone, and the side of the person trying to earn the trust of another. How do you think you react to people showing affection, and how do you go about showing it to others?
Have you ever thought of that question before? Take a moment and consider what you do when you meet a new person, one you would like to become friends with, which will require you to earn their trust. Then consider how you interact with a new person who seems interested in becoming your friend.
How often does wealth or fame show up in your answer? While someone with wealth or fame might be moved to the front of the line for becoming a friend, does that fame and money change how you would trust them? I would hope that it doesn’t.
That difference in trust compared to friendship is the difference between a true friend, through thick and thin, and a fair weather friend, who runs away at the first sign of storm clouds or rain.
Those with whom you share a bond of trust are likely to stick around when the going gets tough. The rest will probably disappear, or have some pressing business on the other end of town they just remembered, right?
That’s not to say that having wealth and power will make it impossible to gain the trust of others. It just means that you will have to do it the old fashioned way, just like your poorer and less well known brethren. You will have to earn it by showing it. By showing your affection.
Tender feelings or fondness is not something that everyone is comfortable displaying. Sometimes you have to read between the lines to figure out what is going on. But as you see others show their affection by their actions, you can begin to trust that they have concern for you, and an interest in your happiness. And to me, that is what trust is all about.