I have written a lot about introspection recently. This is going to be a bit of a departure. Albeit whilst still moving in the same general direction.
In all things, throughout our lives, we are responsible for the ways in which we greet the world. For our motivations and reactions, borne from our thoughts and feelings. To reiterate, we are responsible conduits. The membrane through which the world comes into us, and us into it.
It is a strange way to perceive us. A membrane. But the more I think of it, the more it makes sense. Our minds are a somewhat untapped mystery that scientific study has only made so much headway with. We have only just begun—in recent years—to pay attention to caring for our mental health. Our physical bodies were always the focal point of our wellness discussions. More and more we seek alternative spiritual paths to find peace, eschewing standard religion. The way in which we perceive and are received by our environment are many and varied. In body and mind, we’re both inextricably linked to the universe and yet separate from it. Finding our way back to the stardust from which we were created, one step at a time.
So whilst introspection is a great skill to have, the time has come to talk a little more about how seeking outside of us can make all the difference to our inner worlds.
Not seeking in the sense of looking to find something we are lacking to make us whole. We are born whole, the media and advertising shame us into feeling that we are not. I am more interested in the community-driven sense of seeking. How acts of service can help shape the way in our society operates.
Let’s begin by circling back to courage and vulnerability. Brené Brown’s espousing of these emotion-actions has made her the mother of a research-lead discovery. You cannot have one without the other. Simon Sinek talks about courage as being external to the self. That it is not something you dig deep within yourself to find. It is through the strength of relationships and community that you find the courage to stand up for what you believe in.
Now, arguably Brown and Sinek are the mother and father of the modern way of wholehearted living. Challenging the status quo in both business and personal realms, they have offered a new perspective on the quandary of living well. I often wonder how Brown would feel about Sinek’s beliefs on courage, but outrageously they have never been captured speaking with each other on camera. However, I would hazard a guess she would lie somewhere in the middle. Courage is both an internal and external emaction.
…OK, not sure I can combine emotion and action to make a suitably good term, but I tried!
With courage comes the will to stand up for what you believe in. To do this we both require a conviction in our beliefs, our ‘why’, but also knowing the people beside you have your back.
Sinek notes that success is always a team effort. Brown cites that we are a social species, requiring community to thrive.
We know this to be true. Yet in our modern world, survival does not require this immediate connection. The paradigm of success in society has historically fallen into the categories of business acumen and amassing wealth. In the post yuppie, post .com boom era, we are experiencing a shift where the measurement of success is less monetary, more personal and spiritual. Arguably this has also sprung from the many stock market crashes we have weathered. Now the focus is more: Are we happy in our lives, do we have strength in our relationships?
Surrounding ourselves with good people takes effort. It requires that we make ourselves available, take time to get to know and care for others. To sometimes be selfless. Herein lies the crux: Selfless service.
So often I have spoken of looking inside, figuring you out, being your own deity, etc. Yet the reason this exists is to try to help others. To create a space where I could explore thoughts and ideas, start discussions, build a community and help others feel less alone in their mental health battles.
When I first began Blognitive Therapy, people contacted me to discuss their own mental health, or issues they were facing with loved ones. It felt good to know that my honesty provoked this. I have been so thankful that my words could help others, and lead them to talk to me. My ears and heart are always open to those that want to talk. Please remember that. If you are reading this and we have never met, the same applies. I am here for you.
Sinek’s belief is that leadership is an act of service. Doing something for another person without expectation of return. He also talks about the 12th step of Alcoholic’s Anonymous being the key component: Helping another alcoholic to maintain their sobriety.
When service is offered to another, we are showing up for them and leading by example. Our willpower can fail us when we are the only one holding ourselves accountable. When you are in service to someone else, you want to be the best you can be to ensure they maintain health and happiness.
So in service to others, doing good deeds and not asking what you can get in return, change permeates. We become leaders in our own right. It can be difficult finding the courage to ask if someone needs help. So often we build walls to keep a safe distance from others, denying vulnerability. In doing so it becomes painful to ask someone if they need help—or to just simply help them—for fear of insult. In the same way that asking others for help seems like a daunting task. Vulnerability is a necessary part of life. We need to get comfortable with discomfort.
In offering yourself in service to others your whole world-view can change. Doing a good deed makes you feel lighter, and makes someone’s life brighter. Often, when you do something for someone (however brief or small) that person will pay it forward. Positivity and goodwill spread in much the same way as negativity or fear can. Yet once you step from the shadows of negative emotions, you will see the positive changes you can make, and much more.
If you are reading this thinking “I don’t have time”, all I can say is: The smallest thing can be a help to someone. To be typical; a smile offered to a stranger, a door held open for someone. It all counts. A small step in the right direction is better than standing still. And if you are reading this thinking “well no-one helps me”, please re-read this article and know that selfless service is its own beginning and end. But once you start helping others without expectation of return, you will be surprised at how your world-view shifts and kindness is returned in other ways. You may even find it easier to ask for the help you require.
Selfless service, being there for someone else, sheds light on the fact that vulnerability is not a dirty word. It feeds into courage, creating greater strength throughout our wold.
And finally, anyone who has been reading my posts recently may feel that I have become somewhat a bannerman for Simon Sinek and Brené Brown. I quote them frequently and champion their work in my daily life. I wanted to address why I do this: Because I feel they have truly hit upon the best way to live. These are people of business and science who naturally found their way to an incredibly spiritual end. They have pioneered change in business, taught life lessons and continue to do so in the face of some adversity. There is always adversity. Their work excites me in a way I cannot convey because it points to a future in which we have space to explore and commune with others without fear of shame or reprisal. Where ideas are shared freely, success is measured spiritually, and we work to understand each other better.
So please, do something good for someone else today. And know that it all comes back around.