Helen Eriksen

Have you considered what provides meaning for you?

I should go to the gym more, watch less NETFLIX, eat more broccoli, go to bed earlier, climb the corporate ladder, be a better partner, parent, colleague, or leader. The ideals of the growth paradigm of 'faster, higher, and longer' have made it a condition that we constantly strive for personal optimization and surplus. Often, we neglect to reflect and ask what truly gives meaning to us, exactly as we are in our unique differences. What if we are actually good enough, just as we are?

"What if...". Those two words in context are one of my favorite expressions because they inspire me to wonder. I often wonder, especially if the growth paradigm, its doctrines, and ideals have actually diverted us from a much more coherent way of seeing ourselves in the world that would make much more sense for each individual.

The growth paradigm under which we have lived in recent decades has made it legal and prestigious to constantly strive for personal optimization. We always have to move forward, faster and more, illustrated, for example, by the fact that we constantly hang on a mobile phone or over a computer instead of being where we are. Presence has almost become a city in Russia in the growth paradigm. And to be and remain part of the crowd, we convince ourselves that we preferably should be able to show surplus based on societal ideals of both temporal and human surplus.

But what if that's not where we should look for meaning? What if our pursuit of the ideals of the growth paradigm actually makes us much more unhappy and frustrated than we think? What if it is seriously the discourse of the growth paradigm—its doctrines and ideals—that has led us astray, misled us, and made us believe in an illusion that is simply contrary to how our body and mind actually work? And what if it puts us on antidepressants because we constantly have to optimize ourselves and live up to expectations that are so far from our true basic nature that we become stressed, depressed, and can no longer find meaning in it all?

Learn Leadership, Fellowship, and Self-Leadership from the Fruit Tree
What if we need to find the path to meaning, well-being, and the creation of coherence in completely different places? What if we can learn a lot from the body and nature? The fruit tree is one of my greatest sources of inspiration.

The fruit tree blooms, bears fruit, goes dormant, and then starts over and becomes even stronger the following year. They give while they grow, have rhythms, and also need breathing spaces. Exactly the same applies to humans, who cannot 'peak' all the time, as the growth paradigm otherwise dictates.

Just like with the fruit tree, I like to consider humans as organisms in a larger coherent cosmos that finds meaning and unfolds its potential when it gives while growing. When it has breathing spaces in everyday life to continuously intuitively focus on whether what it is doing actually makes sense.

Take a "Give While You Grow" Check
So no matter where we are in life, I believe it is important that we insist on maintaining an intuitive approach to ourselves in life. It's about enabling ourselves to intuitively ask ourselves the questions that the growth paradigm has caused us to forget. What gives my life meaning—exactly as I am? At work, in the family, with friends. Who says that having a career needs to be the only salvation?

What if the experience of having a life purpose, a calling, could give just as much or complementary meaning?

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