Recently, I overheard a quote that detailed a different way of looking at the world.
Everyone has a personal currency they pay throughout their lives with their lives. It is entirely unique to other forms of payment - you have to decide what your currency will be, what you will give to the world. The decision is important, for with every exchange, every interaction, every conversation, you spend these pieces of your life and yourself, investing them into other people, other places, other experiences. You choose what you will barter with as well as what you will leave behind.
The originator of the quote decided that they wanted their currency to be kindness. Keeping it readily in mind, they spend their life trying their best to live in such a way that pays their currency to everyone around them.
Interesting thought, right?
Of course, it does beg a particularly important question.
If I am to choose the currency my life will pay, what do I want to offer to the world?
If my personal currency is kindness, I will endeavor to bring the people around me joy. I will strive to speak with neither empty flattery nor hostile accusation, choosing instead to go for a smile, willing to exhaust all funds and feelings for just one moment of another person's joy. If my personal currency is kindness, I will keep others in mind even when my patience has worn thin, when my heart just wants to curl up and ignore. I will learn how to prioritize people above the petty stressors in which my life so often wraps itself. Filled with the constant remembrance of my life's emotional finance, I will be able to look to life's positives and exude them towards those who might struggle to find those positives themselves.
Thus, I want to pay people in kindness.
If my personal currency is pride, I will think only of myself. I will go bankrupt shelling out currency I can't even afford to pay to make sure I am in good standing amongst others. I will distrust everyone - why trust a person who could, in any way, usurp my title as "decently capable human being in a couple of areas"? My currency will funnel from my fingertips solely towards interactions that could improve me. I'll waste funds, build upon my personal victories, waste funds, build upon my image, waste funds, build upon my grades, waste funds, build up my place in the supposed social hierarchy. I will see other people as simply side characters in the grand story that is my magnificent life. I will be filthy rich in self-deprecation and deeply poor in relationships.
Thus, I do not want to pay people in pride.
If my personal currency is courage, I will see no worthwhile challenge as being too expensive to attempt. I will buy out fear and purchase successes and failures alike, learning from each as best I can. I will strive to pay others with that courage, speaking my mind and heart with a decided honesty, praying they choose to do the same. I will pay others courage with the hope that they find in themselves the strength to try and use the courage I pay to buy a chance to believe in themselves, a chance to try. Others have offered me that gift, that currency, that chance. I'd relish the opportunity to offer it to someone else, if ever I am able.
Thus, I want to pay people in courage.
If my personal currency is anger, I will shove foul wealth into the pockets of strangers for no reason whatsoever. I'll bury their unique currencies with my own terrible vice, all but forcing them to pay that rage forward to others to continue the cycle. Loaded as anger would make me, I would use it to buy scowling looks, arguments with loved ones, tear-stained pillows, and desolate confusion at why I can't calm down. I would pay for fight after fight after fight until, currencies fully exhausted, I'd collapse, unconnected to those I love, unbalanced, unable to find the positives or offer a single ounce of joy to another person.
Thus, I do not want to pay people in anger.
If my personal currency is love, I can make every single interaction count. I can find the people I love, the people who love me. I can go all out, seek genuine connections. Love holds a hefty value - I will risk a lot of personal heartache and could end up losing big, but I will continue to love through every bit of it. It will be worth the risk, worth the fears, worth the rejections, worth the strain. Love is something to be treasured and shared. If my personal currency is love, I can let everyone and their respective currencies know how precious they are to the world in which they live.
Thus, I want to pay people in love.
Currencies of life are unique, multi-faceted, powerful, abundant. They tell a story of who a person is and where a person has been. For those piling up hatred, they might have been paid nothing but that from their very start. It might take time to pay them enough in positivity that they feel safe to use it themselves. We can't know other people's lives or stories. What we can know is our own. What we can do is make a choice, a choice to pay others in the best of what we have to offer.
So what will your currency be?