I believe that the world would mean very little without other people. Every action is more important if other people are involved.
That being said, I will admit that my instinct is to hide in my room and be anti-social. This may be because I grew up with three siblings, and I constantly crave quiet, alone time, but I often find myself just wishing to be simply by myself.
One thing I have found about being around other people is that I have more fun. This is the simple pleasure of spending time with others, but it is valuable nonetheless. If I spend an evening by myself, likely not doing the homework I should be, I will become overwhelmed, lonely, and tired. If I spend that time with other people, I may not get my homework done, but I will have a great time with usually no regrets. And sometimes I do get my homework done with others!
Which brings me to my main reason for appreciating people – their effect on you. When I study by myself, I generally fail. If I am on a computer, I will find myself playing runescape, on facebook, stumbling, wiki-ing, emailing, and simply staring at google.com. My two sentences in my word processor will fluctuate very little. If I am not on a computer, I will stare at nearby people, make a to-do list of irrelevant material (usually including things that are not time-sensitive, such as learning to play guitar), and get up to get a drink, food, or other distraction.
However, when I study with others (who are also studying – this is key), I find myself able to focus. Additionally, when I have a question about the material, I can draw on my study-friends for support and information. The only distractions in the physical nearby environment then are other people studying, which helps keep me motivated. I try to do this not just for studying but for everything.
I enjoy running. I usually run by myself, but this is a challenge. There are many times when I have reasoned my way out of running or have run a shorter distance than I had planned. When exercising with another or a group, you are obligated to attend, and more motivated to push yourself and continue exercising.
This practice works well with any activity, as long as you have the right people. I try to find times to meet with friends of mine who write and write with them for fun. Sometimes this is unsuccessful, as certain friends of mine are more partial to being distracted, which in turn distracts the whole group, but when it works, we all encourage one another to write. Also, we talk of public readings approaching that the others may have not known about, about authors, or of techniques for writing. In this setting, I accelerate in the field of writing more than I could by myself. I often write more than I would, and I certainly learn more about writing. I also am given the opportunity to share things that I know of writing or writers. In this way, every person present is learning and excelling far more than they might have when writing solo.
This concept can be applied to any aspect of life, and I personally believe that just about any situation can be enhanced by the presence of at least one more relevant person (there are exceptions of course!). Even in the scenario of small talk, this can make a difference. I have found this first-hand recently. In talking to complete strangers, where I may normally have chosen to be reserved and silent, the subject came up of my lack of employment in the future. On two separate occasions, the same job was suggested to me. This made me think about it frequently, and it could be a job that I stick with and change the course of my life for the better (especially through the people I could meet through this job!).
Another situation where this occurred was at a party recently. Where normally I might stick to the company I arrived with, and not branch out too far, I decided to throw that idea out the door and engage in stranger-conversation. It was especially easy in this situation, as it was a very social event, and I began to converse. One thing I have found so far is that there is very frequently something blatantly obvious in common between me and a stranger. This could be a mutual friend or a shared interest, but it always exists in some form. I began engaging one stranger in conversation about how to build a computer. Although I know very little about the guts of a computer, it was still interesting, and I was still able to learn from it.
My goal from this recent revelation is to attempt to engage in conversation with a stranger at least once a day, and to participate in beneficial activities (writing, exercising) with another or a group of people. I look forward to seeing where this practice takes me.