Engage In Life – Opt In
7th January, 2013
I got curious about the term “engagement”. It is a word lots of us use and yet seldom reflect on what we mean by “engaging with something / someone”. This is what I came up with – so far… Let me know what you think – build and add, use the bits that suit, even if only one element applies to you and what you can do more of… Go out and ENGAGE with the world, this planet is truly a far richer and more beautiful place with you in it, so participate….
What does it mean to ENGAGE?
For me the 1st E of ENGAGE relates to Experience. What is experience what does it mean to have and create experiences? Experience is everything and nothing; it is that connection with a bigger, broader whole. Recognising we are part of a wider solar system, a beautifully spun web of life intertwining people, nature and art, history and science. We fear and enjoy our weather systems, take for granted huge breakthroughs such as the discovery of fire. We play within and observe our forests and oceans. We acknowledge famine and wealth and comment on politics and trivia. We make war and peace, navigating climate and creating culture. We profit and gain from economic shifts, regret and celebrate personal failures and successes. We reminisce the past and envision future goals and dreams. We encounter illness and death and we marvel at new birth. Experience provides evidence that we exist, letting us know we are alive. How many new experiences will you have within your life-time, how will you seek out new experiences and really immerse yourself within them?
The N is ENGAGE, for me, links to the above and is about Noticing. If we truly are here (and not characters from the Matrix film or some other sci fi imagining), making the most of our experience requires us to attend to our senses. We can do this by placing energy on noticing things as they occur and reflecting upon them. Registering consciously our context; being aware of our actions, thoughts and feelings. How are we behaving? What are we feeling? Are we really involving ourselves and fully connecting? Are we using our senses to identify what’s going on within ourselves and others? Are we really being present? Are we watching, really looking, pausing to observe? Are we listening, truly listening and hearing? What are we not noticing? What else might be going on? What does that which we are noticing, or not noticing, tell us about ourselves and others? This requires the “child-like curiosity” many people will have experienced my passion for.
For me the G in ENGAGE relates to Getting Involved. This is about grasping life, making choices, getting out there, taking an interest and following this up by adopting an active role. Introducing difference is important here and seizing opportunities. Have you ever had one of those months with lots of sameness in it? A month where you look back over it and you can’t remember – “Was that Tuesday or was that a week last Thursday, or three weeks ago?” Time distorts…. and time is truly limited, so are you making the most of it? Each of the characters that are part of our communities, make our community (and that includes you). Share your gifts and add to the colour of life. Create new memories, get involved. Bill Hicks (my favourite comedian) used to say “life is just a ride”. And so if this is your playground how much fun are you having? How often do you play? Play is not a waste of time, it is essential for life and laughter. How regularly do you notice simplicity within complexity, or take a new interest in an idea you might previously have discarded – looking with fresh eyes (which links to the point above), expressing wonder and awe at the little things. Finding the remarkable within what others might perceive the mundane. When did you last laugh so hard your belly hurt? Laughter is medicine for the soul and we each have the power to create it, gift it and enjoy it.
The A in ENGAGE is all about Appreciation. Saying “thank you”. Looking somebody in the eye and letting them know they’ve done a great job. Telling people “this is the difference that you have made.” Recognising successes in ourselves and looking for what went well rather than dwelling solely on what did not”. Demonstrating gratitude for the things we take for granted. These are pillars of motivation, self-esteem and growth of mind and body (which leads us on to the next point).
The second G in ENGAGE bring us to Growth. For me this is about continual learning, being happy and comfortable to say… “I don’t know the answer to that” or “the next time I will do that even better”. Asking what have I learned? What will I do with what I have learned? How will what I learned make a difference in the future? Embracing every situation as an opportunity for growth and purposefully setting our intention to learn something new every day. This doesn’t have to be fast paced, we can reflect at the end of each day to qualify how will today’s learning help me fulfil my purpose? This is a great way of remaining focused upon expressing ourselves fully – in whatever way is authentic to us. In NLP we have a principle “All failure can be interpreted as feedback” by reframing those less than perfect experiences or times we might describe as “not our finest of hours”, we can make incremental positive shifts.
And finally, the second E in ENGAGE for me relates to Everything in Moderation. Balancing action with reflection, by demonstrating tenacity and drive yet also taking time out to meditate and contemplate. Attending to both talking and listening to demonstrate respect for others and ourselves. Developing strength whilst also cultivating flexibility and adopting a healthy lifestyle with a reasonable work life balance. Experiencing the peaceful solitude that enables space and freedom to feel both connected and unique. Eating sensibly and exercising, yet also indulging in the occasional treat. Nurturing our minds and bodies (we each only have one of each!).
So these are my thoughts on ENGAGEMENT. I hope you have found this a useful read; feel free to share your thoughts.