Gaining Perspective, What Lies Ahead?

Let me just say that up to this point I have seen very few advantages to having this many more birthdays. Except maybe two; grandkids and perspective. Both are great. For now, I’m going to talk about perspective. This will probably come as a great relief because you have undoubtedly heard more than you want to hear about other people’s grandchildren, who of course don’t hold a candle to ours. Right?

It is a huge advantage to have made multiple trips around the sun if we are observant and remain teachable. I must point out, however, that it’s highly possible to have more birthdays without the corresponding increase in wisdom. Sadly, it happens a lot. Many will  develop what master motivator Zig Ziglar called “hardening of the attitudes.” H.L. Mencken was even more pointed about what can happen if we don’t retain our sense of openness and wonder when he said, “The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.”

In my opinion, there’s a bright flip side to the belief that perspective is developed only as we grow older. I’ve observed a refreshing innate wisdom blossoming in the generation that is just entering into adulthood today. Along with it is a hunger for doing things right and for doing the right thing and it is expressed very clearly. I see young people choosing experiences over possessions, putting family first, being more socially connected, more philanthropic and much more aware of the fragile nature of our planet than seen in previous generations. This is exciting!

We’ll assume that all of you reading this post on a website about living worthy values and developing intrinsic motivation are in a special category of folks with a genuine desire to gain both wisdom and perspective. Great! We’re so glad you’re here! You are our kind of people!

I’m keen on observing cause and effect. I think it’s fascinating to understand the reasons behind the emergence of trends and movements in our culture. There’s a great word for the essence of a given time in history, zeitgeist. Dictionary.com defines it like this: “from German Zeitgeist, literally “spirit of the age”. The taste, outlook, and spirit characteristic of a period or generation”. I would say there are several trends shaping today’s zeitgeist and I’d like to explore a few of them in this and upcoming posts.

Few of us would argue that the world we live in today is chaotic and confusing, exaggerated by the immediate delivery of news stories in horrific detail from all corners of the globe available 24/7/365. It seems we are teetering on the edge of financial collapse, we have incomprehensible national debt, the threat of strange new viruses, epidemics and terrorism. Is it any wonder we are seeking purpose, meaning and peace in our little corner of the world?

Despite all the gloom and doom, we also see many very encouraging trends taking shape. Movements always start as small ripples beginning at the edges of our culture and it can take some time before they become mainstream. A fascinating book on this phenomenon is The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Here is how the author defines it, “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”

We see a groundswell of interest in the pursuit of meaning and purpose in our lives and a desire to “make the main thing the main thing” while we have time. Mindfulness has become a hot topic. We all long to “be happy.” Along with this come trends as far ranging as farm to table dining in which we know the source of the food we eat, a great spiritual awakening and increased efforts at evangelization, a movement toward eliminating personal debt, of leaving a smaller carbon footprint, sustainable agricultural practices, and a rapidly growing desire for minimalism, simplicity in our home and getting a handle on our belongings. Whew!

Thank you for reading this far! Clearly, we want our lives to make sense. Here is where you can help us by telling us which of these trends you think hold the most promise for a meaningful life built on worthy values. Which of these resonate with you? Which do you think are reaching a tipping point? What do you wrestle with in your life and what would be valuable to you to explore with us? We really want to hear from you! Please comment and share your thoughts! Thank you.

 

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