I’ve written pretty extensively here about the ways we’re engaged, what we’re engaged in, and how we engage throughout our lives. I define engagement as any sustainable connection in our lives, within or around us.
Today I’m going to write about the roots of engagement, or why we become engaged. Talking recently with a colleague, she asked what to do about the weak spots in our engagements. I explained that there really are no “weak” spots in engagement. I mean, really, when there’s something that I want to be sustainably, richly engaged in, I do that. That is the same with everyone, whether or not we’re conscious of that.
We don’t often think about what we’re engaging in before or while we’re engaged in it. Instead, its often in reflection that we look back and make the connection – “Hey, I was engaged in that!”
“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”—Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Sinking Deep In
I am discovering that engagement largely happens with those things that are deep enough to sink into, as opposed to the immediate choices we simply choose in the moment. If I can choose in an instant, I may not be truly capable of engaging in it.
If the same is true for you, you may not be capable of engaging in sudden things, like a fast food meal, a grocery store aisle conversation, or singing a song around the campfire, especially if those are spur of the moment choices that mean little and have little impact on your longer life. If, however, you feel deeply about those things, consider them with meaning and purpose, and connect them to your longer arch of life, happiness, and purpose, then you may be able to engage in them.
Ultimately, this is the tie-around with the rest of our lives: When we learn to think about it, we often expect ourselves to engage in an instant, in every moment of activity we experience. Understanding what we do with this post though, maybe we should reconsider this: Instead of making every moment engaging, we should allow ourselves to simply live in them. Along then way, we can strive to establish deeper, richer connections through learning, living, loving, and growing, and ultimately can eschew momentary blips of connectivity in order to foster lifelong engagement within ourselves and throughout the world around us.
3 Reasons to Engage in Anything
- Hope. When Dr. King’s team stood in circle to reflect and pray after their civil rights activism, every they’d finish with by stacking their hands in the middle of the circle, and they’d chant “Keep Hope ALIVE!” It was a not-so-subtle reminder that hopefulness is driven by engagement.
- Truth. At the heart of all our commitments, possibilities, actions and abilities is engagement. Since engagement is the sustained connection we experience to the worlds within and around ourselves, its the truth at the core of our realities. If we stopped engaging in the world around us and within us, we’d cease to exist!
- Justice. Engagement is the ultimate form of justice, whether we’re engaging in ourselves or in the world around us. It is justice because, ultimately, we are the only people in charge of our engagement. We are the controllers of the deepest parts of our engagements who nobody, anywhere can harm or take away from. Engagement brings justice because it allows us to connect most deeply, truly, hopefully and sustainably.
Learning to release the tension, pressure, or stress of the daily choices we make might help us hold the engagements we do have in longer, wider, and deeper ways more clearly within our hearts and minds and throughout our lives. Maybe.