“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”~ Maya Angelou
Pushing the pause button has been the gift of a winter break. Pause as in doing as little as possible, sleeping an embarrassing number of hours with the hopes of total hibernation and being silent and still. Pause as defined by reading a wonderful book in two days, seeing a favorite art exhibit, and bingeing on Netflix. Pause as in listening deeply to how I want to spend my time and with whom in the new year. Pause as in, “Who came up with the idea of ‘resolutions’ that begin the new year with stress?” When we pause, we get to clarify what we want to be intentional about in this new year. With our intentions, we get to think about what deserves our attention so the intentions come to fruition.
How do we pause to ground ourselves in this moment so we don’t miss it by rushing and multi-tasking? The Japanese tea ceremony. Saying grace before dinner. Breaking the Ramadan fast. Rituals around meals go back forever and have profound meaning across almost all cultures and religions. They ask us to stop, behold, and appreciate.
With a deep, long and lingering pause we remind ourselves that the goal of our lives is not about happiness. Rather, it is about creating meaning in the lives of others. Our legacy is to make this world a better place through connection and commitment to others. Erik Erickson and his Theory of Generativity was spot on when he concluded that growth is dependent upon giving back, nurturing future generations, making the world better because we passed through it. As a result, we live purposeful, meaningful lives. We don’t find passion. We build it through human connection.
Pushing the pause button invites us to reflect upon some very important questions:
Who am I? What is important? What am I here for? Who are the people and what are the projects that deserve the highest priority?
“We can only solve the problem of time through sanctification of time… We must not forget that it is not a thing that lends significance to a moment; it is the moment that lends significance to things.”~ Abraham Joshua Heschel
1. YOUR GIFTS WHICH YOU GIVE TO OTHERS
What is your gift? What makes you special? Maybe you’re a good friend or doggedly persistent. If it’s helpful, think about how your childhood, regardless of trauma you may have experienced, could have been worse. Find your gift in what made that not be the case.
“Growing up I was blessed in that I had been given the gift of __.”
2. HOW YOU SHOW EMPATHY TO OTHERS
Who have you felt empathy for? Whose suffering has moved you – and how has your gift enabled you to address it?
“Growing up I was blessed in that I had been given the gift of . Not everyone had it as good as I did. I remember seeing _ and I felt the need to do something about it.”
3. HOW YOU PROVIDE MORAL DEPTH
What do you stand for? What offends your moral taste buds? What’s something that, morally, has always been clear to you?
“I have always believed that _ was the right thing to do. It hasn’t always been easy. I faced problems, but I’m stronger because of them. They taught me that _.”
4. HOW YOU EMBRACE A THOUGHTFUL PAUSE MOVING FORWARD
How can you design a ritual or a habit which makes you stop, breathe and think so you can pace yourself for the marathon run of a new year? What does your compassion for yourself sound like? How can you convince yourself that you are enough, your effort is good enough, that you are a blessing?
*Thanks to Eric Barker for the inspiration for these reflective questions.