The Power Of Moving From A Life Of “Me” To A Life Of “We” !

anne frank quote

(etsy)

As I drink my tea in the morning, I am reviewing some points of history… all in the name of community.

Community. Empathy.  “We” as greater than “me.”  These are all ideas that lead to great civilizations.

No community. Strife. No compassion. “Me” as greater than “we.” These are ideas that seem to topple great civilizations.

How much are you engaged with community, with family, with humanity at large?

In feng shui, it is compassion that helps you to cultivate personal power and even wealth. A lack of empathy leads to a lack of abundance.  Yes, you may hoarde money if you lack compassion, but abundance and self-empowerment is more than money- it is well-being and a feeling of stability and ease in life.

Are you living with compassion? Do you feel yourself a part of a larger “we”? 

mirror photo

(Paolo Roversi self portraits)

Let me say this: I am not, historically, a fan of the “group.” I fought against joining anything for most of my young life.  As a freshman at Stanford I was given the dorm prize for “Least Likely To Get Involved In Any Activities.” I prided myself on my individualism. Group-think was something horrible to me.

Then, much misery and arrogance later, I learned about the idea of itai doshin. In Japanese it, roughly translated, means “Many in body, one in mind.” It’s a principle in Buddhism that can make even a group small in number immensely influential in creating peace, happiness and community.  I saw it in action. I feel it intensely when I travel to Japan.  I started opening up to this idea, and I stopped caring about “me” as much.  “We” is so much more fulfilling in my own experience.

The Narcissism trend is deeply woven into our culture.  But we can unwind it!

echo and narcissus

(Echo & Narcissus)

Here’s the historical myth of Narcissus as explained by Ovid:

In this tale, told by Roman poet Ovid and remembered for his verses on love, a young girl named Echo falls in love with a vain youth named Narcissus. He was the son of a woman that the river god had encircled with the windings of his streams, thus trapping and seducing her. Worried for her son’s welfare, she consulted a prophet regarding his future. The prophet reports: Narcissus “will live to a ripe old age, as long as he never knows himself.”

One day when Narcissus was out hunting, Echo follows the handsome youth through the woods, longing to address him but unable to speak first. When Narcissus finally heard her footsteps he shouted “Who goes there?” Echo answered “…goes there? …goes there?” And so it went, until finally Echo showed herself and rushed to embrace Narcissus. He pulled away and vainly told her to leave him alone. Narcissus left Echo heartbroken and she spent the rest of her life lonely and pining away for the love she never knew. Only her voice remained.

Eventually Narcissus became thirsty and went to drink from a stream. As he saw his reflection, he fell in love with it, not knowing that it was him. As he bent down to kiss it, it seemed to “run away” and he was heartbroken. He grew thirstier but he wouldn’t touch the water for fear of damaging his reflection, so he eventually died of thirst and staring at his own reflection. The narcissus flower is closely identified with the boy and was said to spring from the ground around the pool where Narcissus died. In the Roman version it is suggested that Narcissus is transformed into the flower. “

A great dose of narcissism- ie, swagger, love of self, self-confidence, etc- is a great thing… but only when paired with compassion and empathy.  Without compassion, you are not connected to anything bigger than yourself.  In my experience, highly narcissistic people are the ones who tend  to get stuck the most often… and have lots of people to blame for their stuck-ness, too!

Apparently, the trend toward narcissism as an extreme behavior is on the rise.  “Narcissism epidemic” is what some researchers call the trend toward “me” rather than “we.”  Think about it: Selfies are fun, but they can become a lifestyle for many. Social media is awesomely powerful, but can create a false sense that everything you say is true or valid or fair. All of these expressive tech tools empower us to have a voice, but they never stress to remember to love one another!

An article, Narcissism Unleashed,  in Association for Psychological Science explains further how the tend toward the “me” generation is pervasive in cultural trends:

“Another target of research has been pronoun usage. In both the corpus of 5 million books housed by Google and the lyrics of Billboard Top 10 songs, the use of first person singular (I, me, mine) has grown, while the use of first person plural (we, us, our) has declined. Many other data points show a similar pattern.

  • Medical cosmetic procedures, including surgeries, have increased dramatically since the 1990s.
  • Houses have expanded to encompass more rooms for individual activities.
  • Religion has become much more personal, with increases in the popularity of ”prosperity theology,” “cafeteria” style religions, and individual reports of direct experiences with the divine.

Consumer culture also illustrates the spread of self-focus, whether it’s watching a barista at Starbucks taking a five-step custom order, people sitting around a restaurant table with each on his or her iPhone, or a customized pizza restaurant like YourPie.

In a sense, narcissism is the dark side of individualism — freedom without responsibility, relationships without personal sacrifice, and positive self-views without grounding in reality.”

If you are looking to create a life that is bigger, brighter, more connected and more fulfilling, you may want to cultivate compassion in your life.  Use social media to create a sense of “we.” Spend time exploring community projects, groups and social activities that harness the power of numbers and the synergy of a group of like-minded people.  Developing a social consciousness and becoming “philanthropic” is a far more balanced way to enhance your life… a way that really creates power in the world.  At least that’s what I’ve come up with so far. If you have more ideas, please pitch them in!

If history is a cycle that can repeat again, as a “we” society we can move toward a Golden Age.  It all starts with the decision to stop the “me-me-ME”.  My idealistic thoughts of the morning!  What do you think? Can you give more and engage more in community, compassion and synergy? I certainly can…! xoxo Dana

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Dana January 9, 2014 at 4:28 pm

How very true! This is fantastic post. Thanks for posting.

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