Why is the sky blue?
Why do we act like hamsters on a wheel, running to get ahead of the unknown?
Why do we strive to attain a particular status, in keeping with societal expectations?
Why do we set goals which are mostly tied to some form of classic upward mobility?
All of which is often contained in our safe bubbles of families, friends and lovers, communities and the cultural codes of where we live.
“And what is the point?”, we often banter around the family dinner table. I wonder if this is the unsung hero question which we do not ask ourselves enough.
If we asked ourselves why, just that little bit more often, could we make better use of our precious time on this planet? Could more of what we do count to making a positive difference to those both close and far, as well as to ourselves? How about fewer of those meetings for the sake of a meeting, or doing something just because it is the norm, or what people expect. And instead, how about more of experiencing, enabling and growing in ways that truly enrich our lives.
Purpose, Meaning and “Social good” are some of our favorites terms de jour. Though what do we really mean by this? To me, it is about real, tangible outcomes which improve people’s quality of life, both today and for tomorrow. This goes beyond prior traditional definitions of Sustainability and caring for the environment and community. It is about human wellbeing. Whether you are a fan of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the godfather of Positive Psychology Martin Seligman, or Michael Porter’s Social Progress Index, the essence is what tangibly makes us more whole.
Maslow — Physiological, Safety, Belonging, Esteem, Self-actualization
Seligman — Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement
Porter — Basic human needs, Foundations of wellbeing, Opportunity
For those of us fortunate to have our basic needs met, what if we made a few different choices? What if instead of chasing the greatest bang for our buck, we looked at the broader definition of value, and how we can do more of that which improves our collective quality of life. What if we focused on a couple of the below? Who knows what the ripple effects could be.
- genuine connections: being present and committed to the moment or the shared experience, and truly feeling an exchange of emotions; whether it is a conversation with a stranger, offering support to a friend, or fully engaging with your kids craft project
- holistic health & wellness: going beyond just the physical to be “mentally fit”, thinking about the internal not just the external, or latest health fads. Time to bring out the board games?
- continuously learning: both that which improves our understanding, skills, and challenges us to explore the new; broadening our capabilities, as well growing for that next role
- building self belief: having the confidence to try new, fail, regroup, rebuild and find success in new and unexpected ways
- being part of something bigger than ourselves: being mindful of the cause and effect we have in the world and the ecosystem we live in, with the possibility of higher vibrations — you get what you give.
Presumably we all want to live a meaningful life, not just a pleasant or a good one. Being mindful. To accept and allow, both the high’s and the low’s. To continuously learn, create and grow.
So before I choose to say yes, sign-up or buy, I hope to be more deliberate as we begin this new year. And if I am unable to articulate a sound point as to why, I will move on. Perhaps you too may like to ask why more often?