Seriously. I want to increase the net well-being in the world. When I ask myself the question "What's the point?," I think about the end game - not one of us is going to live forever, and no amount of wealth, degrees, fame, power, admiration, attractiveness, accomplishment, coffee, or chocolate is going to change that. Our time here is finite, and we don't know exactly when that time is up. Could be decades and could be moments.
So, after 49 years of living with the inevitability and uncertainty of the human condition, I have decided to deal with it by cultivating well-being one breath, one thought, one word, one action, one conversation, one person, one organization at a time.
And it always starts with cultivating my own well-being - mindfully and purposefully noticing my habitual self-defensiveness, lightening up, connecting with what is most important, and aligning my next action with my deepest values. I teach this practice, which makes it crucial that I am practicing myself. And, because I am human, I forget. And then I remember, and I begin again. Over and over, in my wonderfully awkward and imperfect way.
It's not that my own well-being is more important that others. It's just that my support of others is more authentic when it is coming from a solid base rather than a need for their approval or appreciation. If I am supporting the well-being of others in order to feel that I am enough, then I have wandered into the weeds of manipulation. And those are weeds that I have been in many, many times in my life.
I believe that everyone, consciously or not, wants to increase the net well-being of the world at some level. I believe that this is behind almost every human endeavor, whether it be in education, business, politics, the military, volunteer work, healthcare, or entertainment. I know some efforts look very self-serving or even destructive, but I believe if you dig far enough, you will find the intent to make the world a better place. Some people provide services, some people create products, sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not. Sometimes we get so lost in daily demands or personal insecurities, that we lose sight of why we are doing what we are doing.
I know that there is injustice, violence, disease, oppression, poverty, and suffering of every type in the world. I am not suggesting that breathing mindfully will make this all go away. I am suggesting that the more we return our attention to increasing the net well-being of the world, the more likely we are to put energy into actions that will make a positive difference.
So, I want to do what I can. From the moment I wake up until I fall into bed at the end of the day. From now until my time is up. And I want to support others in doing the same. I want to build a network, a tribe, a movement. No matter what your professional, social, or financial situation, you can practice, moment by moment, using whatever shows up to cultivate inner peace and outer results that add to the net well-being in the world.
Who's with me?
Dave is the CEO of Applied Attention, an educational company that helps people train their brains to increase well-being in their lives and organizations. He teaches simple research-based practices to build inner clarity, deep connections, and outer results. You can reach him at www.appliedattention.com.