One of the seven principles of life in the Hawaiian Huna tradition is that “energy flows where attention goes.” Yet most of us go through our days allowing our attention to go mostly unguided or unexamined. Are you aware, right now, of the underlying thoughts or beliefs guiding your actions in this moment? Are you clear regarding why you are choosing to spend your time on the things you are focusing your actions on today?
Recently, I was with a delightful group of colleagues discussing how we are seeking to “operationalize wellbeing” in our own lives, our organizations, and with our clients. One of the most valuable gems I came away with was a reminder that even when holding a clear intent or perceived focus (i.e. wellbeing), there are many options in choosing what we actually look at. Do we look at the context or environment, and what supports wellbeing from that perspective? Do we look at the components of the experience of wellbeing – what it comprises in terms of emotional, body, and even mental sensations? Do we look in a very subjective way at our own inner landscape, familiarizing ourselves with the nooks and crannies where we feel most alive, at home, at peace, and living “on purpose?”
Those are all very useful ways to focus our thinking, yet all focus in a rather singular direction. One question that took the conversation I had last week to a different place was the question of what patterns we are seeing in our own lives and organizations as we seek to “operationalize” wellbeing. In both my own life and that of the organizations and clients I work with, I see a patterns of so many sincere and focused efforts to do things that support wellbeing, while still operating in a greater context of “striving” to achieve. And I found that those patterns of well-intentioned efforts found it quite difficult to co-exist with the energy of striving. Part of the definition of striving is, in fact, to “struggle or fight vigorously.” It is no surprise, then, that the energy of striving continually pushed us off-center and off-purpose.
So I have a question for all of us. What do we truly believe about our ability to contribute and live on purpose in this world if it is not from a place of striving? Why do we fear that in the absence of pushing and striving we will do nothing, or nothing useful will occur? What is the alternative to living a life of striving? For me, looking at that question both personally and organizationally is the next key to stepping into a life of greater wellbeing, as well as greater potential contribution.