These great needs are self–evident once we reflect on them. These two great needs also appear to be implanted into other sentient beings and all of life.
The first great need is growth.
"If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living." ~ Gail Sheehy
Everything in nature grows. Plants, animals, humans. This growth is continuous throughout the entire life span of the plant, animal or human.
The only creature in all of nature that wants to tinker with this process is the human. With the myth of the un-natural state of “retirement,” we have attempted a massive social experiment to stop our natural growth.
Under the guise of “taking it easy,” we have persuaded a few generations now to try to alter our natural inclination and built in impulse to continue to grow all of our lives…until our last breath. For that is how we are built: to continue to grow and learn until we are no longer able. It is part of what makes for a fulfilling life.
Instead, persuasive programming has many believing that their learning or “education” is finished when their years at school are done. As anyone who has entered a profession, calling, trade or career knows, the real learning starts on entering that profession, calling, trade or career. Often times, we must unlearn much of what we have been taught in school to succeed in our life’s choice of occupation. And as masters of their craft know, the learning never stops. There is always more to be learned, even after attaining “mastery.”
The Three Most Dangerous Words to Our Growth
We would do well to adopt the Zen attitude of “beginner’s mind.” This attitude is what most readily allows more new learning to enter. The opposite of beginner’s mind is the attitude that we know it all. Motivational speaker and author T. Harv Eker warns us that the three most dangerous words in the language are: “I know that.”
Upon coming on new information, if we allow ourselves to respond with those words, even internally, we risk shutting off learning anything new. “I know that” shunts the new information into a pigeon hole in our minds without ever opening up the envelope to see what is inside.
This is the way many operate. We can hardly blame them for it. The programming we receive when young is persuasive and it takes great effort to undo it. That we must undo this programming is critical to our continuous learning and therefore fulfillment in life.
“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” –Francis Bacon
The second great need is contribution.
Again, the myth of retirement cuts off this need at the knees. When we give into the persuasive programming to “take it easy” at a certain arbitrary age, we again cut off an avenue to leading fulfilling lives.
Great sages like Mother Teresa, Michelangelo, Ramana Maharshi, Jesus, Peace Pilgrim, Ghandi and many others show us by the example of their lives how contribution enhances the riches that are available to us.
This life is not about getting, it is about giving. The great paradox for us to discover in this life is that whenever we give love we are not diminished by the giving. On the contrary, we always receive much more than we give.
Making a contribution enriches us. Whether we comfort a hurt child or give a present from the heart, we feel good. This feeling good is nature’s “feedback loop.” It tells us this is right, do more of this. Yet, what do many of us do? We revert right back to the “Gimme” philosophy or attitude. “What’s in it for me?”
“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.” -Sir Winston Churchill
What riches might await us if we nurtured our giving nature?
I contend that giving is our true nature, that the act of continuously making contributions, small, large or in between, is what gives meaning to life. This is where the “juice” of life is.
Your mission, should you decide to accept, is to reflect on how can you continue to learn thereby keeping the grey cells active and slowing down the aging process and then doing it.
Your mission also is to opening up to the awareness of how to make contributions in your life. Consider that even paying a compliment to a friend or anyone near you is a contribution. Sending a note or email of thanks or appreciation is a contribution. The more we do it, the easier it becomes to continue.
Warning: you may find yourself getting addicted to both continuous learning and to contribution. These addictions may be hard to break.
Any and all information provided here is not a substitute for the advice of a licensed medical practitioner. Individuals are advised not to self-medicate in the presence of significant illness. Always consult with your licensed medical practitioner first before undertaking anything…be it supplements, exercise programs or other protocols. The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Do not construe the information provided here as authoritative health advice…or authoritative advice of any sort. All information provided or referred-to on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be health, medical, financial, accounting or tax advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. Matti Anttila is not a licensed financial planner, doctor or health practitioner. If you're not inclined to Do-It-Yourself then please, before you Do-It-To-Yourself, obtain professional advice.
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