The World’s Most Beautiful Dreams
Can’t see anything in the dark
No house, no tree
No ditch, no stone
No cloud, no soil
No bird or insect
Not even your hand is visible
In the dark
The world’s most beautiful dreams
Are always seen
Only when it is dark
Hindi Poem by Jitender Srivasta
Every adult, at some point, experiences a moment in their life in which they feel something needs to change, but they don’t know what. They just know that it doesn’t work anymore, it is sometimes tiring, it isn’t always fun anymore. They feel pressured to make choices, but they are not sure what it is that they should choose to do. Some may even wonder if they really know what they want, perhaps feeling like they have lost some part of their sense of self. This can happen to us regardless of the position, role, or status we have in public, corporate or private life – it can appear early on, or later in life.
In these moments, things might feel complicated, annoying and rather scary. You will likely feel obligated to make the right choice. But right for whom? Yourself? Your family? Your colleagues? Society? Or to what people, place or purpose is it that you want to be loyal to? What is it that you consider your ‘home’? “Home need not always be a physical place. Home is where we are from – the place where we begin to be” (Petriglieri, 2012).
“Our existence is, however, always a two-sided coin of possibilities and limitations. Paradoxically, the attractive or the good in each dimension always has a potentially troublesome darker side. The most extreme manifestation of this is the fact that life ends in death” (Leijssen, 2016). So, in any adult life looking for existential well-being, it becomes a matter of being aware of the tensions in the different dimensions of our existence and finding a balance in the different poles. As sustained overor underinvestment in a certain dimension can lead to problems. (Leijssen, 2016).
This self-leadership program takes us through the four dimensions of human existence as defined by Dr Mia Leijssen: the physical, the social, the psychological, and the spiritual. Each week is devoted to a different dimension and includes a set of short articles to read, videos to watch, questions to reflect upon, and short behavioral experiments to carry out. All of this is firmly anchored within scientific evidence and/or theory, and is easy to follow and understand. We will develop together and read/ discuss each other’s questions, doubts and insights through a collaborative online platform.
“The physical dimension involves everything that has to do with the tangible, sensory body and the natural and material environment. E.g. the importance one gives to physical aging, the house, the car, the office building one has, the sports , the money one has, etc. In this dimension, safety, comfort, pleasure, health and external beauty are important values. Threats are poverty, pain, illness, decay and death.
In the social dimension, the focus is on your relationship with other people and everything that concerns your position in society or your function in public life. Important categories in this respect are status, recognition and success, but also caring for others, having responsibility, friendship and belonging. The major threats in this dimension are: condemnation, disproval, rejection, loneliness, guilt and shame, etc.
In the psychological or personal dimension, psychological characteristics are involved; personality traits, intellectual ability and opinions you hold about yourself. In this dimension, self-knowledge, self-actualization, autonomy and freedom are of great importance. Major sources of fulfilment involve seeking personal growth and making full use of your talents. A rich inner life can be the result of investing in the personal dimension. This dimension also involves self-acceptance, coming to terms with yourself and processing and accepting your past and present life. Threats in this dimension are confusion, doubt, imperfection, a lack of freedom and disintegration.
The spiritual, or the transcendental, dimension includes self-transcending ideals, a broader system of meaning, faith, spiritual values, notions of the human being in a cosmic context, finding ultimate meaning, the confidence that there is a meaningful direction that develops in all life. It is the domain in which one’s “ego level” is transcended. (…) Threats in this dimension are meaninglessness, futility, and evil.” (Leijssen, 2016).
At the end of the four weeks’ work online, we will further our exploration by walking together for two and a half days, stepping out of our usual patterns and taking time to rest and reflect. There will be a combination of group and individual exercises to develop self-reflection, meditation and the voice, all supported by the power of our response to poetry (Adam et al., 2013). Reconnecting with nature, as many studies have demonstrated, can increase happiness, positive emotions and kindness, and has both physical and mental health benefits (Green & Keltner, 2017).
Defeated, a man sat down
Defeated, a man sat down
A man, I did not know
Defeat, I knew
So I went to this man
And offered my hand
He took my hand to stand
He did not know me
He knew an offered hand
We both walked together
We did not know each other
We did know walking together
Hindi Poem by Vionod Kumar Shukl