Peace is not a new pursuit. Whether it's personal peace of mind or a more global peace between nations, we are a species with a long history of wishing for it. We've done more than wish, certainly. We've tried, we really have. Every generation tries and there are, all too often, more setbacks.
As I look back at the time I have spent working with people as their life and executive coach, I don't recall many people coming to me articulating that they yearn for peace. However, they have characterized what they desire as wanting "more." "More" has evolved over the years, though, in my observation. It has undergone a transformation.
In the late 80s, and early 90s, people's definition of "more" was more money and more status. In the mid-to-late 90s, when the economy was stellar, the definition of "more" was to find more time. (Thus the 90's buzzword -- work/life balance.) And in the 2000s, it seems we've come around to recognize that what we wanted all along from "more" was fulfillment, feeling satisfied and finding meaning -- maybe the closest to spiritual peace that we've come to as a culture.
Right now, with so many people still out of work or suffering financial ills, there are two choices I've seen people make. One is a focus on the financial terror of the times and the other is to dust off the forgotten pieces of their soul and create a new self that includes ALL of who they want to be.
For example, a story about a Detroit autoworker tells of a tragic job loss until he took an "I have nothing to lose" shot at an old love for bowling. Within a few months, he was making more than he would have in two years at his old job. Does this make him spiritually enlightened? Maybe not, but it does make him someone who is doing something he loves, and that must change how he shows up in the world -- probably happier and more at peace. Maybe not how you'd do it, but I see more and more stories at all socioeconomic levels like this one.
For years, I've thought that the changes in corporations in the last 15 years were less of an economic equation and more a result of a collective consciousness of beleaguered workers (white-collared and blue) yelling on Monday mornings: "I can't do this anymore!!" We asked for it. (When we are not willing to take action, sometimes life does it for us.) Our current metamorphosis, economic and human, could be a result of our less verbalized needs.
In her book The New Culture of Desire, Melinda Davis says: "[We are] trying to figure out how to live, the last several thousand years of human advancement be damned -- because all of the progress we have made so far is about mastering the old world, the physical world, the world we are switching out of."
We are evolving past the need to have physical proof of our existence. In other words, we are tiring of having goals that are just about "making it" and gaining more external validation of our success. Today, we are undergoing a switch from measuring ourselves by factors such as wealth, fame, public image, and jobs that "look" good to evaluating ourselves internally by how we feel, whether we like who we see in the mirror every day, by what we contribute and how our work impacts others. We want to feel better and be better.
Many are not even able to articulate what is happening. Our discomfort registers as a general malaise or feelings of frustration. Many people may think it's time for a change, but cannot specifically say why. Many feel selfish that they are not just being grateful that they have a job. These are all positive signs that evolution is at work. People are questioning their path. What has become clear is that satisfaction with our lives stems less from what we choose to do for a living, and more from who we get to be while we are performing those tasks. We want an integration of our work-self and our self-self, and the right work allows us to feel in harmony with ourselves, which equals peace.
The downward economy, global unrest and the uncertainty of things since September 11 have all seemed to contribute to a quickening of the human soul to find its place of peace. Will you answer your soul's calling for peace?
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