Significance, Connection, Growth & Contribution
Video Gathering Text
An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”
― Victor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
― Victor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
"The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short." ~ Abraham Maslow
“For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.”
― Victor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
Micah 6. 1: These three things are required of us: To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.
Abraham Maslow. Have you heard of him? He was a psychologist. Born in New York in 1908. He was the oldest of 7 children and raised in Brooklyn. He was the recipient of much violence as a Jewish immigrant in a non-Jewish neighborhood. His home life left much to be desired. He had a particularly poor relationship with his mother for whom he had little respect. He had few friends and as a result, spent much of his growing up time at the library with his cousin.
He dropped out of college twice, finally graduated from a third school. Studied behavioral psychology that was focused on primate behavior and obtained his Master’s and Doctorate degrees. Then went on to study under Adler, who was an early student of Freud. To make a long story short, Maslow thought that this psychology thing of interpretation of thoughts and feelings was a lot of mumbo jumbo and he went on to look at the human being through a different lens and was one of the early founders of humanistic psychology.
The basic principles behind humanistic psychology are simple:
1. Someone's present functioning is their most significant aspect. It is the here and now that is important, not our past or even our future
2. To be mentally healthy, individuals must take personal responsibility for their actions
3. Each person, simply by being, is inherently worthy. While any given action may be negative, these actions do not cancel out the value of a person.
4. The ultimate goal of living is to attain personal growth and understanding.
But Maslow, as most of you social workers, teachers, physicians and helping humans know, is most celebrated for his Hierarchy of Needs.
Let’s superimpose this hierarchy with a bit of diversion to our current situation. He said that for humans to grow, we first must have our physiological needs met. Food, shelter, physical comfort. This pandemic has certainly been a challenge to many who cannot work and line up in food lines, cannot pay rent, and worry about today, much less tomorrow. In March, in our very own not so Happy Valley, there were 6000 more phone calls to the crisis line at Mental Health than for March of last year. Most of those calls were people in crisis about these basic needs. It is a similar picture around the country! This pandemic strikes at that the very core of existence. Do you know people in our community in need of support in these areas? Our family is eternally grateful for Council’s decision to allow Nela to work on cleaning and maintenance projects around the church to keep her in groceries. I wish to publicly thank you for that! Maybe you have helped in other ways. Food for Homeward Bound or a monetary donation to the food bank.
Maslow would say that once a person has tended to his or her physical needs and is physically comfortable, then they can move on to the next step. Safety. This pandemic has shaken all of us to our roots here! The world as we have known it these 30, 50, 70 years is NOT safe. It is up to us to create as much physical safety as we can. We stay in our homes, we maintain social distance, we wear masks, wash our hands, order online, etc. This lack of certainty, predictability is at the root of much of our loss, our grief. And, it is our challenge. With the lack of physical safety and the ever presence of that loss, how do we create emotional and spiritual safety . . . for our spirits. . . for our souls. . . for one another? How do support one another and use the tools available to us to transcend our current physical situation and achieve a modicum of safety and of peace?
Since Maslow published his hierarchy, many people have expanded it and flushed out ideas for more growth.
There are 4 main ideas that seem helpful to me as we look at ways of growing during these challenging times. They are Significance, Connection, Growth and Contribution.
Significance is the first. It involves how we perceive and act on our belief about our self worth. It is the reading this morning…"The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short." ~ Abraham Maslow Another similar quote, from Nelson Mandela, "Our deepest fear is not that we are weak. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world ... As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
How do we feel important, special, unique or needed? In my life family serves a lot of this purpose. Although we are all staying apart physically, I will always be the only “Mom” …unique in that role. For better or for worse. . . At Koinonia, I believe that we are each unique. That each of us has important gifts to contribute and although that may present some tension at times, we are all still unique. And we continue to exist, dare I say, thrive? Because of this uniqueness.
Connection When people post for Sunday service, I get a deep sense of connection to US. Craig, Ellen, Catherine, Melodee, Thank you. And David and Judy, singing in your masks, you warmed my heart! Ellen and Council, you have become the glue that holds us together and helps to keep us connected during this time.
Facebook has also become quite important to me. It is an easy way to stay connected to people near and far.
One of my happiest moments of the day is when I go outside with the dogs in the morning and check my gardens. When I watch those little plants grow, it fills me with such a connection to nature and growth. It is a very deep and spiritual feeling.
Walking in our beautiful valley and seeing a blue sky and wide open spaces fill me with a sense of beauty and connectedness to something vast.
Isn’t it interesting how many people are noticing the simplest of life now and how important and meaningful those small events have become?
A wave, a greeting, a sunset, a phone call, a zoom meeting with friends, a beautiful film clip of music or of ballet.
What are your connection moments? How have they changed since March? I would venture a guess, that our connection measuring device has changed. And perhaps our grateful meter may have changed also. . .
Growth Have we grown? Has it been intentional or have circumstances forced us to grow? Or has it been both, intentional and circumstances? Have you grown in learning a new skill or have you grown spiritually? In our Monday spiritual group that is meeting by conference call, I have heard people speak of the depth of growth that comes from a deepening of soul as we face our sadness and our losses. Growth as a deeply human being can be expansion in capacity, capability and or understanding. This growth can be wide and deep.
I have heard that lots of people are doing some deep cleaning projects. That just not my deal, tho.
I have set out a more intentional study of flute. I have continued with online lessons and done tutorials, listened to some great music and practiced more intentionally. The garden has also been a quarantine project. I have never done spring gardening, so I am learning about that process, built some worm towers and doing a lot of reading about companion gardening. My broccoli has crowned and I am soooo excited. Connected to nature
I am curious. Have people intentionally set out new projects, ideas, learnings during this time? If you have, even the smallest, would you be willing to post? I would find this most interesting and even helpful for all. It can also provide another point of connection.
Contribution Generosity is biologically based in the human being. When we give, when we are generous, we physiologically get a bigger kick of dopamine than the people we are helping. And since that feels good, generosity also triggers the production of serotonin which helps us to feel happier and less anxious and when giving is done with empathy, oxytocin, the human bonding hormone, is released. While this is a reductionist explanation, what it important to understand that generosity performed with empathy for another living being, releases a trifecta of hormones, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, that help us to have a sense of well-being. Thus we are wired to be social beings. And there are no requirements and no limits on this giving when it is done with empathy. Get that? Done with empathy definition The ability to understand and share the position of another. And what is that, but connection! ?
As an aside, It often baffles me when people live life as if they are only person that matters; that their wealth and riches are all that count and that we are not here to serve others when the human being is wired to be prosocial. I am sure we could discuss this thought for hours. And perhaps someday, we shall. But for now, let’s move on.
I believe that we all share of ourselves daily in many ways. The act of social isolation is itself a generous gesture. Allowing someone to go ahead in traffic. Working on climate change issues. Feeding the hungry in our community and world. Caring for our critters. Caring for our neighbors and one another and on and on and on. From the smallest to the most magnanimous…generosity changes our world and fuels us!
There you have it. What are the 4? Significance, connection, growth and contribution. As we puzzle these things, we will undoubtedly become more of who we are . Think about these this week. How are you already applying these ideas in your own life? How would you like to expand them. How will we accept this challenge that the universe has offered us? G-d bless us every one. Amen
May our connection with one another and with world be filled with joy and gratitude
As the seed grows to the sunlight, may we expand and grow to our fullness.
It is our hope that from our small offerings of empathy and compassion, that we will continue to grow in generosity and understanding and thereby bit by bit those actions that can impact the world.
Let us live in peace as we continue to serve.