The writer and psychiatrist Edward Hallowell in his book “Connect” tells us about the “two most powerful experiences in life”. He says they are “achieving” and “connecting.” He goes on, “Almost everything that counts is directed toward one of these two goals.”
That’s worth a moment’s reflection. It’s difficult to think of any human activity that falls outside these two categories. We all have a need to achieve something – even if it’s just getting out of bed in the morning! And the saying “no man is an island” tells us that the need to connect with others is wired into our humanity.
Actually these dimensions have counterparts in our brains. Our left hemisphere is all about achieving, whereas the right side is much more to do with connecting – but that’s another story!
Hallowell continues, “While we are doing well at achieving, we’re not doing well at connecting”. Again, I think he’s right. Our Western culture is strongly orientated towards achieving, finding success materially, making things happen, “fixing” things. Many other cultures have a rather different approach.
And we’ve found a lot of success through achieving over the past 200 years.
But how about connecting? How are we doing in that? Connecting with each other? With our inner selves? With the world around us? With purpose and meaning? Perhaps not so well.
And the really interesting thing is that personal and community wellbeing is much more closely related to connecting with oneself, with other people, and with some kind of greater meaning and purpose than through achieving success – at least in material terms (what is true success ultimately anyway?)
So here’s a question. How much are you achieving? And even more profoundly, how well are you connecting – and with whom and with what?