By Alexa Ashworth – MFTC
Every person is engaged in their lives through many different pathways in life. We actively engage ourselves through the arts, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, the workforce, travel, inner strengths, families, and interpersonal relationships.
There is no right or wrong way to connect with ourselves, in our relationships or the world around us. Every aspect of our personal engagement speaks to how we see, feel, know, understand, or believe ourselves to be, and as we choose to exist here on earth. Listed below are four different areas in which we can more fully engage with ourselves, others, and our surroundings.
1. Our World
There are over one hundred ways to connect with and engage in the greater world around us. After reading through several articles on how to engage with our world, I personally started to think back to my time spent traveling overseas. While reminiscing, the moments that stood out to me most were the conversations I had with people, young and old.
It was not the classes I attended, long lectures about historical architecture described on bus rides, or studying late at night for an exam. The true experiences imprinted in my mind and on my heart are those spent having tea with my homestay grandma, being invited over to a local’s home for dinner with their family, having an intellectual conversation with a colleague at a pub, or asking an artist at their gallery how they came to be where they are at in life today. It was the inspiring and thought-provoking social interactions that stayed with me.
I think of who I was at that point in time as fully acting out in each day as if it were my last to create memories that would last a lifetime. I am not suggesting to immediately go out and travel the world to create this kind of engagement. I am suggesting that whether it is in your own home or overseas we have opportunities to make life-defining moments with other people. Moments much like I had overseas, I can also make happen right here within my own community.
You may choose to engage with the world through reading new literature about topics you never set time aside for, advocacy for something you’re passionate about in the current area you live, sharing personal thoughts and wisdom in conversation, writing, or become engaged in a non-profit where you can support missions helping other parts of the world. The possibilities are endless!
When it comes to asking yourself if you allow time for life-defining moments you may want to reflect on these questions:
- Am I engaged in my day to day life at home?
- Do I still invite opportunities to engage with my own learning?
- Do I make time to be engaged with beautiful things, that carries into how I see the beauty around me?
- No matter my age, do I allow myself time to play?
- Do I develop short- or long-term connections with people?
- Am I currently supporting my own passions?
- How do I contribute to the greater society?
- How do I act out who I am in relation to others?
In order to understand how we fully engage at work; we have to first recognize how many times we “check out” of work. One way of knowing how easily you connect with your line of work or not is by asking yourself if your core strengths and personal values align.
Engagement at work enables growth and progress if you are highly immersed in it. Studies suggest that it has four main aspects: having a sense of autonomy; making regular, meaningful progress; readily feeling positive emotions; and experiencing flow—that is, periods when you are so deeply absorbed in what you’re doing that you lose track of time.
Ways in which you can take small steps to revitalize your work are listed here:
- Task Crafting– Redesign your tasks at hand. Understand your greatest strengths, so you can tailor your effort and involvement at work to what your best at. For example, if you are good at seeing the big picture and can help larger pieces of the puzzle come together, contribute to that area of expertise. If you are not very detail-oriented, it is okay to save these tasks and let others take on operational tasks.
- Focus on celebrating your progress – even if it is a small win. It is the small wins that propel us forward, making us want to get more done within the day.
- Prioritize conversations or activities that feel good. When you have a small break in the workday, intentionally think about who you may interact with or where you want to go. It is important to get up out of your chair and change the scenery. It is also important to share your gratitude with a co-worker you might not acknowledge frequently. These are small moments that will contribute to positively charged emotions.
- Protect your energy. Be mindful of who is in your close circle of friends. When you build your world with others who are strong it invites more positive energy into your life. Outside of work who do you hang out with most? Do these individuals fuel you to achieve great accomplishments or bring you down as though you’ll never achieve your dream? We don’t often think about it but our outer circle will give us the inner strengths we need to get through harder tasks at work. It is never too late to re-create or invite new relationships into your life.
3. Inner Strengths
A couple of ways in which we can build off our strengths is by intentionally setting up things in our home to invite joy or positivity in our daily routine. Andrea Driessen, a meeting designer, and the author talks about how we can Jar some Joy each day. How we do this is by gathering together a large jar and stack of papers. Place this somewhere you have easy access to in your home. Then, when you think about or have an experience that brings you joy, write it down and place it in the jar. On days that seem frustrating or become defeating, reach into your jar and remind yourself of the abundance of joy all around you.
The second way of cultivating inner strength is by spending time in the silence. We live in a constant state of noise and distractions. It is important to take time to sit in the stillness of your own thoughts and rejuvenate. When you do this, it has to be with 100% focus and zero distractions. This is the only way to calm the inner storm or rough seas of constant activity in our minds.
Two important questions to ask yourself moving forward are: How do I give away my power? And How do I feel empowered? Do you give away your power when you are going too fast or do not listen to your own needs? Are you empowered slowing down or taking the time to share your inner truth in a kind way? By clicking on these hyperlinks, you will find an abundance of examples for how to know where you are at for each of these questions.
There are many areas to engage when it comes to your current relationships or in building new relationships. Here is a bullet point list of ways in which we can stay present while maintaining strong and healthy relationships. This list speaks to those in a committed relationship or close friendships.
- Devote time for yourself, so you can bring energy into a conversation with your loved one or friend in a way that allows you to be patient with their thoughts or ideas.
- Stay committed to accommodating one another’s differences.
- Allow room for compromises and respectful disagreements.
- Maintain hobbies and interests that invite joy into the relationship.
- Make time for activities you can do together that benefit others.
- Allow time for each person to be heard and emotionally validated.
After reading this article I encourage you to go connect with something that has been written on your heart for a while. Jot down what it is or who with, you want to start making more meaningful connections within your day to day life. I would encourage you to even go back to one thing that stood out to you on this list of ideas and further reflects on how to make it possible.
“Your Personal Engagement begins with living towards, through, and within your every moment.” – Adam F. C. Fletcher