Living a Meaningful Life - Living from SOURCE...
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wake up in the morning with nothing to live for, no sense of purpose, no reason to get out of bed?
If you have ever felt like that, you wouldn’t be alone. As far back as 2016 World Health Organisation figures suggest that 264 million of us worldwide suffer from depression, while 800,000 of us feel so hopeless that they go on to commit suicide. That is one person somewhere in the world, every 40 seconds. Over the last 45 years the number of us committing suicide has risen by 60%. Clearly, living a meaningful life is becoming increasingly difficult in today’s world and so many have no reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Having said that, when we do have purpose in life, it is possible for us to forge meaning out of the most horrific situations. While enduring the horrors of life in a concentration camp, for example, Victor Frankl noticed that survival chances increased for those who, despite everything that was taken from them, remained connected to a purpose greater than themselves. They possessed a conviction, a belief, a set of values, an inner sense of self that no-one could take from them. This was their Source and it kept them alive.
At the time Frankl was reminded of that insight of Nietzsche:
“When you have sufficient ‘why’ you can endure any ‘what’.”
What we do in life has meaning for us when it is an expression of a core set of values that inform why we do it. Whatever our personal or professional context these values are our Source.
Source gives us clarity of purpose. Knowing why we do what we do adds quality to our relationships and meaning to our actions. Source gives us an ability to see beyond current reality to what could be and makes the day, no matter how challenging, worth getting out of bed for.
Social workers, teachers, nurses, counsellors and therapists, medics, people from faith-based groups, indeed folk from all the helping professions, join with others to be part of a community of helpers. Often rooted in personal experience of struggle, they become deeply committed to creatively influencing the lives of others.
In the global pandemic of Covid 19 we have witnessed so many willing to put their own lives on the line because they are inspired by Source to make a difference, whatever the personal cost. For them living a meaningful life is more than just a matter of personal fulfilment, rather it is motivated by the desire to be with others in a way that gives the best chance of leaving them better than they found them.
Periodic Disconnect from Source...
Having said that, no matter how strongly we feel our connection to Source we will find ourselves periodically disconnected from it for at least four reasons.
The first reason is global. We live in a time of massive global disruption. Fuelled by an unsustainable lifestyle, this disruption is characterised by the Presencing Institute as a three-fold disconnect. An ecological disconnect (knowingly consuming the resources of one-and-a-half earths), a social disconnect (increasing use of human beings as commodities and massive gap between rich and poor) and a spiritual disconnect (manifesting in the global epidemic of suicide). As a species we lack any sense of a common Source, witnessing on the one hand a search for certainty through fundamentalism and on the other a search for safety through fragmentation and isolation.
The second reason is local. We can see how this global disruption manifests itself in our local experience as services for those in need become overwhelmed. Increasingly practitioners find themselves asked to achieve more with diminished resources. Administration and management tasks can quickly take over from the front-line contact with clients. Practitioners find themselves doing less and less of the work that inspired them in the first place. The experiences we use the word burnout to describe are never far off. In my experience though, burnout rarely comes from hard work alone. Rather it is a by-product of work that is disconnected from Source.
The third reason is personal. Every human emotion passes. No matter how enthusiastic we are for our resolutions on the first of January, there will come a time when the energy of that enthusiasm fades. Usually by the second week of January. This natural ebb and flow of emotion means that we can expect to routinely lose the feeling that connects us to the Source of our inspiration.
The fourth reason is communal. Our sense of separateness is an illusion. Contemporary neuroscience introduced us to the reality of the ‘mirror neuron system’. This is the neurological mechanism through which we are emotionally hard-wired to each other. When you empathise with someone in pain, you feel their pain. When you seek to make a difference to someone whose pain disconnects them from their Source, and you do that well, you too will paradoxically, temporarily lose connection with our own Source.
Unfortunately, these natural experiences of disconnect from Source often evoke a critical internal narrative suggesting we have betrayed ourselves; let ourselves down; “it shouldn’t be this way”; “if only I didn’t feel this way”, "I can't do this anymore". However, what if these very experiences of disconnect offer an invitation to make the reflexive turn towards a richer conversation yielding a deeper understanding? What if disconnect offers a pathway to re-connecting to Source and living a meaningful life? As the philosopher says, "What if the obstacle becomes the way?"
Taking the Reflexive Turn...
Disconnect is not the only story of our time. There are collective energies, other than those of fundamentalism and fragmentation, unfolding in communities of people across the globe and from all walks of life. They are characterised by co-creation and co-accountability, by participation and inclusion. They use the language of oneness, harmony, unity and a shared global identity for us as a species. This is the alternative future that is seeking to emerge.
Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer, of the Presencing Institute, describe this emerging future as a shift from ‘an ego-system awareness that cares about the well-being of oneself, to an eco-system awareness that cares about the well-being of all, including oneself’.
Source is the dynamic energy that fuels this emerging future. Who do we Choose to Be, is the language Meg Wheatly uses to describe the conscious decision to re-connect to Source, to why we do what we do.
Taking the reflexive turn means freeing yourself from the need for anyone else to change, recognising that you are the only one you can change. Taking the reflexive turn is an invitation to clarify and live from your own Source while engaging with others from that Source in a manner that gives them the best chance of living a meaningful life.
At the Centre for Re-Sourceful Leadership we are at the service of individuals and communities as you seek to live a meaningful life through nurturing this alternative future. We are inspired by core values of Acceptance, that suspends judgement to immerse ourselves in the present moment, in what is; Compassion, that senses beyond what is, to a vision of what could be; and Courage, that moves beyond fear, to realise the vision.
We offer opportunities to clarify and articulate your compelling vision and the core values that infuse it; notice the routine ways in which you become disconnected from that Source; and, by engaging with the gap between your vision and current reality, co-create a pathway back to Source.
We do this through hosting conversations in Reflexive Learning Pods that explore the experiences of global, local, personal and communal disconnects from Source as the obstacles that can become the way to an alternative re-sourceful future.
A reflexive conversation asks not, ‘what do you do for others?’; rather it seeks to clarify, ‘who are you for others?’; while dropping even deeper to sense ‘who do you choose to become for others?’.
Living a meaningful life isn’t about always feeling good,
but it is worth getting up in the morning for regardless of how you feel.
At the Centre for Re-Sourceful Leadership we
nurture relationships, host conversations and facilitate environments from which we can collectively forge meaning.
By noticing and engaging with the disconnects, we seek opportunities for individuals and communities to re-source themselves, re-aligning the WHAT and HOW of their work with their source - WHY.