Worth a Life Weekly #1

At the end of every week I will include links to three to five resources that I think will help in your journey of living into your calling. These will be resources to print out and pass along to others. They will be great discussion starts for a staff or leadership team. They may help open your eyes to see a different side of culture. They will encourage you….or let’s be honest, you may not connect to every resource shared. We are all busy and finding helpful resources through technology can be overwhelming. The hope is that these weekly emails will help you weed through and find meaningful resources.

In your 30s and 40s, plenty of new people enter your life, through work, children’s play dates and, of course, Facebook. But actual close friends — the kind you make in college, the kind you call in a crisis — those are in shorter supply.

As people approach midlife, the days of youthful exploration, when life felt like one big blind date, are fading. Schedules compress, priorities change and people often become pickier in what they want in their friends.

No matter how many friends you make, a sense of fatalism can creep in: the period for making B.F.F.’s, the way you did in your teens or early 20s, is pretty much over. It’s time to resign yourself to situational friends: K.O.F.’s (kind of friends) — for now.

But often, people realize how much they have neglected to restock their pool of friends only when they encounter a big life event, like a move, say, or a divorce.

The world seems to be getting more empathetic. Americans donate to charity at record rates. People feel the pain of suffering in geographically distant countries brought to our attention by advances in communications and transportation. Violence, seen on historical timescales, is decreasing.

The great modern humanitarian project of expanding the scope of our empathy to include the entire human race seems to be working. Our in-group (those we choose to include in our inner circle and to spend our energies on) is growing, and our out-group (everybody else) shrinking. But there’s a wrinkle in this perfect picture: Our instinctive tendency to categorize the world into “us” and “them” is difficult to overcome. It is in our nature to favor helping in-group members like friends, family, or fellow citizens, and to neglect or even punish out-group members. Even as some moral circles expand, others remain stubbornly fixed, or even contract: Just think of Democrats and Republicans, Sunnis and Shiites, Duke and North Carolina basketball fans.

How much proper brainwork – not zoning out in meetings, or reorganizing the stationery cupboard, but work that involves really thinking – should you aim to get done in one day? It sounds like a trick question. We think of creativity as fundamentally mysterious, and of humans as extremely varied. Plus there are so many kinds of white-collar work: why assume the same answer for lawyers, academics, investment bankers and engineers? But the answer isn’t some sophisticated version of: “It depends.” The answer is four hours.

Last night, 25 friends gathered in my home for dinner. This dinner had a mission. Over the last 24 hours, these amazing folks gathered hundreds of supplies for a “First Responders Packing Party.” First responders get limited sleep or breaks as rescue efforts take top priority. Phone calls from those in law enforcement were updating us about the supplies that were most in demand. Items were purchased, donated, sorted, counted and packed in waterproof plastic bags.

Hidden Brain is one of the most fascinating podcasts I have found. I listened to this episode yesterday and it still has me thinking.

What would it look like for you to create space for deep work?

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