Please take out your pen and a sheet of paper and answer this simple question: “Which five friends do you like?” Quite simple, no?
I can imagine you scribbling quickly; Sapna… Meena… Neha. Or, Sanjay… Sunil… Rajiv. Or even a mix of genders. Sapna… Sunil… Meena. Very simple, right? We all can easily write the names of people we like. Open and shut case, of course I know who I like. Fair enough.
Now let me reverse the question. I hope your pen and paper remain ready.
Please now list five friends who Sapna, Meena and Neha like. You should be able to answer this one, pat. So you should be able to list very quickly 5 likeable friends for each of these friends. Sure, you think for yourself, I know exactly what (and who) she likes.
I shall wait as you do that.
You think I am writing one of my usual, light-hearted, frivolous pieces as usual. I am not. So please do go ahead and put your pen to paper.
Done? Then let us proceed ahead.
Scan the lists of the liked ones of people you like. How many of these five lists do you appear in? I can take a bet, you do not appear in all the five lists. Right? Surprised? And you think I am P.C. Sorcar Jr. to have guessed what you see? Perhaps I am. But we shall wait and watch. Just stay with me and be honest with this exercise, you will not regret it. (Or maybe, you will!) Stay with me and the rules of this game. And I hope the sheet of paper you have chosen is big enough to accommodate all my questions, there are more coming.
List the top five people whose company you enjoy the most, the ones with whom you would most like to spend time with. And now, since you know this game, take a guess on which of your chosen five will have you on their lists. This may be a difficult, but take a shot. You may find you do not feature in the lists of all of them. You would normally assume they would find your company pleasurable too.
If you feel disturbed suddenly that you feature in less than five of the lists, I will not be surprised. I would have been surprised if you did, indeed, show up in even four of the five. And please remember, you have been the one all along making these lists, I have not even asked any of your friends you like, as to who they like. You could be in for a greater surprise on seeing the lists obtained from your preferred companions.
Here is a tougher one. Write down the names of 5 of your friends whom you admire. And guess the 5 whom you think these admired friends would place in their lists of the friends they admire. I know you do not know this for sure, no one does, but please do go ahead.
Do you feature in any of these lists? Chances are, very few of these lists!
If it is a little disturbing for you, I empathize. I was hassled too, when I undertook this exercise. Those we like may not find my company most enjoyable, those whose companies I enjoy may not revel in mine. And those who I admire do not admire me. These truths haunt you and you start wondering about your own judgments and philosophies in life.
A pretty unpleasant experience, overall. So why did I get you to embark upon this? And let me assure you, this is not one of those pieces from the new-age, self-help book claptraps. This is an actually an outcome of a study I have done, the findings of this study I did a couple of decades ago left me rather taken aback.
Anyway, all this background details can wait till the next post.
For now, I wish that those who have been “cheating” all along- not making the lists as suggested- please go ahead and do so. Let me assure you, you will not regret it.
Or maybe, you will, depending on whether you see the glass “half-full” or “half-empty”!