I have spent the better part of the past 3 weeks writing and re-writing my upcoming TEDx Talk. I have created more content in these few weeks than the entire year combined. So many thoughts and concepts pouring out of my heart and soul that it has been a bit overwhelming. So many thoughts and only 18 minutes to express them!
The process has required me to narrow down what it is that I want to say and what is it that I think is so important that I must share it, and I believe I am getting close. With the help of many friends, a writer and a speech writer I have shared my soul about what I believe is important. The issue that I have narrowed it all down to is connectedness. What is it that I experienced in Africa as well as many other experiences in my life that have brought me to the conclusion that connectedness is such a basic human need, yet our society continues to move in the opposite direction. We are becoming more and more isolated in this digital world but it is connectedness that feeds our soul!
So, what is my argument and how can I explain this. Abraham Maslow developed his hierarchy of needs in 1943, about the same time that the US government created the food pyramid. Just recently the US gov’t changed the food pyramid, which used to have meat and potatoes at the base, to now have fruits and vegetables at the base. So, in that same mindset, is it possible that Maslow’s belief that finding our purpose was an aspirational need and not a basic need was wrong? Is it possible that finding our purpose, becoming what Maslow refers to as self-actualized, is as important as food, water and shelter? What if it belongs at the base of his hierarchy and not the top?
I say this because the more I try to figure out the reasons for the pleasures I get in my life, the more I realize that what I saw in Africa on our trip in 2012, in Colorado when I volunteered for a youth program back in 1993 and so many other times in my life, it comes down to connectedness. But how does one find connectedness, why did I notice it in these communities? What was it that they were doing naturally that allowed them to have what I have always wanted, without even trying? What I believe is that they had a common purpose that they share as a community. The common purpose in Africa and Colorado was survival, so everyone shared the same purpose which allows everyone to connect, and connect deeply.
So, why does this matter? In a developed country like the US where survival is a given to the majority of our population we are no longer connected by a common purpose. If we are no longer connected by a common purpose than we start to become isolated, and that isolation causes so many of the ills that our society struggles with. We start to look to consumption to fill that void, but that has never worked and never will. So, if survival is not our common purpose we need to find others that share a purpose that we care about, that is where connectedness comes from. It happens around tragedies, like 9/11 or wild fires that destroy neighborhoods, or hurricanes. NYC was an amazing place to be for 6 months after the towers came down. But these periods of connectedness are fleeting, how do we make them a more significant part of our life?
I have a hypothesis, and that will be the focus of my talk. Why is connectedness the key to our happiness and joy and how do we get it more often? To get my answer you will have to wait until I finish my TEDx Talk.
‘Til next time ……..