growth life work

Service and Self Worth

Audrey-Hepburn-quoteI’m recognizing how much our lives seem to be dictated by our perceptions of our own self worth. Questions of self worth seem to be pervasive in the human experience and play a great role in our motivations, both for self destruction as well as for moving in positive directions.

I was recently writing in my journal about how light and happy I have felt in general since returning to the states after my summer away. There has been a pervasive sense of ease in my experience which has been noticeable. There is also an excitement relating to my intention to return to Nepal and work with the Nepal Orphans Home in getting them functioning in an effective manner using the Khan Academy for online education. I’ve continued to research and have begun to immerse myself into the world of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the models of provision of services/aid/support to those in need in developing countries. I’ve always had an interest in being of service and even focused on non-profit management while getting my master’s degree, but my life got caught up in other professional endeavors and, aside from some non-profit work and consulting early in my career and some volunteering and board of directors work since, I haven’t really given myself over to being of service.

Being of service seems like such a natural extension in the expression of the human life. When we have served ourselves long enough and well enough, the desire seems to naturally arise to serve others. Being of service seems to be an intersection point for this topic of self worth. What I notice when I observe my own present lightness and happiness is that it seems to be connected with having a sense of work/purpose that has more personal import or value. Having personally meaningful work/purpose seems to naturally lead to a sense of having greater personal value or self worth, and if my hypothesis is correct, leads to a sense of lightness and happiness.

Perhaps you know someone whose life has been marred by failings and illnesses, unfortunate circumstances and difficulties. The more I have connected with some of these people, some of whom are very close to me, the more apparent it becomes that they harbor a subterranean river of self-doubt (or worse yet, hatred) which saturates their entire experience. When a sense of positive self worth isn’t present, the opposite seems to hold true and self-destructive behaviors seem to naturally follow. When we see ourselves as worthy or special, we do things that are good for ourselves. When we hold a more negative self-perception, poor choices tend to ensure.

Recently, I was working on organizing my music and ran across a song I had written nearly 20 years ago called “If I Should Stay.” There was a phrase in it that reflects how some of these questions have been alive in me for a long time:

“Is the truth in the work of our lives,
Or our work to unmask truth’s disguise?”

It’s a valid question and one whose answer 20 years later I’m still not certain about. I believe that the more our work (our life effort) reflects the essence of our being and our natural inclinations and tendencies, the more at home we will feel as a willing and joyful participant in our own lives. Yet it can be difficult to manifest meaningful work (or purposeful effort) if we aren’t diligent in unmasking the truth of our own behavior and beliefs.

I feel like I am in an enviable position right now, excited to be where I am and excited to be where I am going. It’s not quite like I want to be everywhere at the same time, but rather that I’m keen to be in any number of places – home, London, Nepal or even Chicago where I was recently visiting family and friends. While my life does have a spaciousness to it, I am always putting effort toward trying to architect my own life to add more meaning and value. I feel very blessed and lucky to have the Nepal opportunity ahead of me and to have the opportunity to be of service in the world in a way that is personally meaningful.

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