So far through this blog, we’ve discussed several different topics in parallel. This was necessary, and will continue to be necessary going forward, because developing our inner self is less like going down a conveyor belt and more like building a web.
That being said, we’ve decided it’s about time we review what we’ve covered so far to help you integrate your understanding of the human experience.1
In honor of that, the following post is an integration of all the ideas we’ve covered up to this point.
The main motivation behind starting Realize Renaissance is to create positive shifts in the human experience. We will do this by filling in a major knowledge gap. This is the gap we’re talking about:
- If you become physically dysfunctional, you can go to a hospital or a physical therapy center, where you will get guidance on returning to normal function.
- If you want to increase physical function, you can go to a gym or other training facility, where experts will guide you forward and help you push your upper limits.
- If you become emotionally or psychologically dysfunctional, you can go to a counselor/therapist/psychiatrist and receive guidance on returning to normal function.
- If you want to increase emotional and psychological performance beyond the average, you go…where do you go?.
There is no organized mechanism you can use to increase your function in these areas beyond the average, especially not one that follows a logical, systematic progression. As Shawn Achor puts it, we’re creating the “Cult of the Average” with psychology. By addressing this overlooked area, we can create positive shifts in human potential. This is what Realize Renaissance is doing.
Filling this gap means integrating all that’s known about our internal development into one comprehensive framework for human growth and fulfillment.
Thrivelihood (The Concept Formerly Known As Fulfillment)
Pushing the boundaries of the human experience is now known as Thrivelihood:
Thrivelihood is about enjoying the purpose and the process. For too long, these concepts have been debated as a dichotomy, as if one could be either achievement-oriented or live in the present. This is not an “either/or” question; it is a “both/and” question. Think of it this way: if we never learn to appreciate the present, then any achievements are rendered useless, because in the future, after we’ve achieved these things, we will not have the ability to savor our success.
On the other hand, if we focus only on the moment, without guiding our process in some direction we find fulfilling, we may create a future for ourselves that minimizes our future happiness in pursuit of present happiness. This image sums it up well:
By invoking the power of process, we harness the ability to appreciate our experience, enjoy our present time on Earth, and benefit from our contentment; we arm ourselves with the mindsets that will help us persist through adversity and perform our best.
By invoking the power of purpose, we not only set ourselves up to be able to look back on our lives with fondness and contentment, but by living meaningfully, we increase our capacity to feel more positively in the moment, and recognize which actions we must take for a more positive future.
The two are inseparable. We need both.
Admittedly, we have not discussed purpose much so far. We have alluded to it, but have yet to fully address it. We will be discussing purpose in the coming weeks, which will involve re-examining the topics covered through the purpose-lens, as opposed to the process-lens.
That being said, we’ll continue our recap. In terms of honoring both purpose and process (thriving), there are two main ingredients: connection and growth.
Connection is a key component of both our purpose and our process. For the sake of discussion, we’re defining connection as:
“The act of deeply witnessing, and engaging with, all aspects of life.”
This includes connecting with self, others, and purpose. Connection it is not one piece of the puzzle, like in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but a pervasive element that underpins every other element. Without connection, we will be considerably less healthy, both physically and psychologically. This will massively hinder our ability to enjoy our lives and our ability to create enjoyable futures for ourselves.
On the other hand, living a life of connection invites positive moods into our lives, as well as openness to new ideas, and even increased immune function. This can help us enjoy the process and better pursue our purpose.
In discussing connection, we mentioned a map analogy, which involves the following steps:
- Where am I? Find your landmarks. (connect with the self)
- From here, what is the best destination? (connect with purpose)
- How do I get there? Do I have everything I need to make this journey? What resources will help me get there? What will make this process easier/more enjoyable? (connect with others)
Connection is one of the major pillars of both purpose and process. The other pillar is growth.
The obvious merit of growth is pursuit of purpose. If we are to achieve some goal, we will likely need growth and skill acquisition to bridge the gap between where/who we are and where/who we want to be. This helps us create the impacts and legacy we desire. As Albert Einstein said:
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
However, less obvious is the merit of growth for process. A growth mindset is not synonymous with an achievement orientation. In fact, some growth is for connection. We must learn to be vulnerable. We must learn to listen. We must learn to love ourselves so that we can truly love another.
Further, as we mentioned above regarding growth, if you can’t enjoy the present/process now, you won’t be able to enjoy it later either, unless you develop the skills and perspectives necessary to do so. If we don’t learn to value the process, we destine ourselves to forever chase happiness around on the end of a stick.
Today’s purpose can support tomorrow’s process.
So, thrivelihood is the goal, and thrivelihood demands both growth and connection. Which brings up the next question: how do we get growth and connection? One of the primary building blocks for both is what’s known as “resources”.
Based on Conservation of Resources Theory (CRT), life’s events can be challenging (especially things like self-awareness and the vulnerability of connection). Resources are the things we use to accommodate or overcome stressors in our lives. With resources, things that seem difficult to one person may seem easy to another. Resources make us resilient, helping us stay in a positive place, which makes it easier to live a life of growth and connection.
A few important things about resources:
- They are perception-based. Absolute levels don’t necessarily matter; it’s all a matter of our perception.
- Some resources are external (others, reputation, money, house, etc.)
- Some resources are internal (self-esteem, confidence/mastery, energy, etc.)
Both resources and stressors affect our resiliency. More specifically, our resiliency can be thought of as the perception of the strength of one’s resources compared to the perception of the strength of the stressor(s) in question. This gives us a ratio; the resource:stressor ratio.
r = resiliency
Rp = perceived cumulative strength of resources
Sp = perceived cumulative strength of stressors
External resources are subject to the realities of physical world. We can lose them, or they may not always be available to us for use. They’re like a crab shell, and sometimes we find ourselves in molting season.
If our well-being is dependent on external resources, we must always fear their loss at some level, which means external resources can actually be a source of stress in our lives. Sometimes, they are as much a part of the problem as they are a part of the solution.
This does not mean we should abandon external resources. However, we must ensure we have enough internal resources that we can actually enjoy the external resources in our lives without fearing their loss. We do this by building enough internal resources such that our well-being is always within our control. We can lose possessions, lose money, or lose loved ones. We will, however, always have ourselves. With internal resources, this can be enough, and knowing that can be incredibly liberating and empowering.
Further, examining the resource:stressor ratio gives us a few interesting bits of information:
- Resiliency bottoms out at zero. This makes sense intuitively – we can’t have negative resiliency.
- The break-even point is when r = 1, when your resources are equal to your stressors. This would imply that you feel evenly matched. Your resources are fully utilized/challenged. Just a little more of the stressor would put you over the edge, and just a pinch more resources would give you quite a bit of comfort. It is a state characterized by uncertainty.
- The ratio can be greater than one. In fact, it seems to have no upper limit. Resiliency could essentially reach infinity.
Infinite resiliency is an intriguing notion, and one we should strive for. With infinite resiliency, nothing seems genuinely threatening; we feel we are capable of withstanding and/or accomplishing anything. This is not being absent of fear, but being unbound by fear. Just as Neo can stop a bullet, acknowledge it, pick it up, then cast it aside, so could one with infinite resiliency acknowledge and cast aside fear after it arises.
This is not the suppression of fear; it is the realization that the fear is unfounded because we know we cannot be damaged. We realize our initial observation was incorrect; we are not actually in an danger because we are invincible. There is no spoon.
Resiliency is not about dismissing an experience or the emotions that arise from it. It is about building one’s ability to withstand and overcome by changing the way we experience life’s challenges. It is about creating temporary and/or permanent alterations to our perspective that allow us to persevere. When you learn to control and alter your perspective in this way, you’ll see that it is not the fear that bends, it is only yourself.
Perhaps most importantly, the path to infinite resiliency is not through external resources (though they can help), but through internal resources. This means any integral program for thrivelihood must start by building internal resources.
Recap of the Recap2
As concisely as possible, the logic thus far goes like this:
- Awesome life = Thrivelihood.
- Thrivelihood demands equal parts purpose and process.
- Purpose and process demand growth and connection.
- Growth and connection demand resources.
- Internal resources trump external resources.
Visually, you can think of it something like this:
Therefore, an integral framework must start with resources. The rest will follow.