A Sense of Being, In An Evolved Life

A sense of “Being” is one important criterion we use when evaluating whether we have lived evolved lives. We assess whether our lives that have been meaningful and fulfilling by examining the “Four B’s,” which include “Being,” (personal) “Belonging” (social), “Believing” (values) and “Benevolence” (altruism).

    “Belonging” was the subject of my last column, and responding to readers’ requests, let’s look at “Being.”

An evolved sense of Being refers to a person who is at peace with him/herself, gratefulfor blessings, aware of frailties, and grounded, compassionate and empathic.

In studies I did on people who were in strong communities (belonging), they felt healthier, more confident and appreciative of themselves and what they stood for. They were less alienated and felt more worthy.

When I interviewed older retirees about themselves and their lives, most of them had a similar appreciation of themselves, how they had related to family members, friends and others, and what they had accomplished. Their feelings had to do with personal characteristics as worthy and caring individuals, as opposed to material assets and worth.

An evolved sense of Being, implies that an individual  has achieved “identity resolution,” which Eric Ericson postulated many years ago was the defining challenge for adolescents. In truth, however, this is an ongoing life-long quest which lies in our answers to questions like “Who am I (really)?” and “What do I stand for?”

People without an evolved sense of being are more apt to exist in perfunctory lives, going through the motions without personal fulfillment or intimate sharing. They are more prone to apathy and melancholy, often with a pervasive dissatisfaction with their own lives. They are also more lonely and demoralized, alienated from and intolerant of others. They might hide their unhappiness behind faux masks of bravado or confidence.

Those with an evolved sense of being have achieved  self-understanding and inner peace. Not that they think they’ve been “perfect” human beings: They recognize their faults and limitations, and that they’ve made mistakes and acted poorly at times. But they have regretted, repented and redeemed themselves, and are not beset by burdening guilt or self-recriminations.

They feel content with the ways they usually behaved alone and in relationships, and in what they were able to achieve. They’ve reached a state of self-acceptance, and no longer have to prove their worth to themselves or others.

They have a realistic image of themselves. They can look at themselves in the real or metaphoric mirror and recognize their strengths and imperfections. They genuinely like the person staring back at them, with no need for a social mask or self-delusion. They appreciate their strengths and blessings, and have learned how to reduce or compensate for their frailties and foibles.

They are humbler and wiser. They have experienced both depressions and elations, recognizing their transient nature and impermanence of each, and have shown resilience. They have also lived through setbacks and successes, and handled “those two imposters just the same” (Rudyard Kipling).

They are more loving and forgiving, and deeply conscious of the crucial place of generosity and kindness in their everyday lives. They are more tolerant of themselves and others, and they emanate warm, positive vibes.

Most of us do eventually achieve an evolved sense of Being, but in reality this can only be attained with the simultaneous actualization of the other three B’s, Belonging, Believing and Benevolence. Each of these cornerstones plays a crucial role, but all four together are necessary for an individual to feel authentically fulfilled in a meaningful life.

The evolved person inevitably leaves an indelible Positive Emotional Footprint on his/her community, and on the rest of us.

    A sense of “Being” is one important criterion we use when evaluating whether we have lived evolved lives. We assess whether our lives that have been meaningful and fulfilling by examining the “Four B’s,” which include “Being,” (personal) “Belonging” (social), “Believing” (values) and “Benevolence” (altruism).

“Belonging” was the subject of my last column, and responding to readers’ requests, let’s look at “Being.”

An evolved sense of Being refers to a person who is at peace with him/herself, gratefulfor blessings, aware of frailties, and grounded, compassionate and empathic.

In studies I did on people who were in strong communities (belonging), they felt healthier, more confident and appreciative of themselves and what they stood for. They were less alienated and felt more worthy.

When I interviewed older retirees about themselves and their lives, most of them had a similar appreciation of themselves, how they had related to family members, friends and others, and what they had accomplished. Their feelings had to do with personal characteristics as worthy and caring individuals, as opposed to material assets and worth.

An evolved sense of Being, implies that an individual  has achieved “identity resolution,” which Eric Ericson postulated many years ago was the defining challenge for adolescents. In truth, however, this is an ongoing life-long quest which lies in our answers to questions like “Who am I (really)?” and “What do I stand for?”

People without an evolved sense of being are more apt to exist in perfunctory lives, going through the motions without personal fulfillment or intimate sharing. They are more prone to apathy and melancholy, often with a pervasive dissatisfaction with their own lives. They are also more lonely and demoralized, alienated from and intolerant of others. They might hide their unhappiness behind faux masks of bravado or confidence.

Those with an evolved sense of being have achieved  self-understanding and inner peace. Not that they think they’ve been “perfect” human beings: They recognize their faults and limitations, and that they’ve made mistakes and acted poorly at times. But they have regretted, repented and redeemed themselves, and are not beset by burdening guilt or self-recriminations.

They feel content with the ways they usually behaved alone and in relationships, and in what they were able to achieve. They’ve reached a state of self-acceptance, and no longer have to prove their worth to themselves or others.

They have a realistic image of themselves. They can look at themselves in the real or metaphoric mirror and recognize their strengths and imperfections. They genuinely like the person staring back at them, with no need for a social mask or self-delusion. They appreciate their strengths and blessings, and have learned how to reduce or compensate for their frailties and foibles.

They are humbler and wiser. They have experienced both depressions and elations, recognizing their transient nature and impermanence of each, and have shown resilience. They have also lived through setbacks and successes, and handled “those two imposters just the same” (Rudyard Kipling).

They are more loving and forgiving, and deeply conscious of the crucial place of generosity and kindness in their everyday lives. They are more tolerant of themselves and others, and they emanate warm, positive vibes.

Most of us do eventually achieve an evolved sense of Being, but in reality this can only be attained with the simultaneous actualization of the other three B’s, Belonging, Believing and Benevolence. Each of these cornerstones plays a crucial role, but all four together are necessary for an individual to feel authentically fulfilled in a meaningful life.

The evolved person inevitably leaves an indelible Positive Emotional Footprint on his/her community, and on the rest of us.

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