Our must (and our chance of wisdom)

The way to find your happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when your really are happy – not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy.  This requires a little bit of self-analysis.  What is it that makes you happy?  stay with it, no matter what people tell you.  This is what I call “following your bliss.”*
(Joseph Campbell)

If you must […].**
(Kerry Hillcoat)

Everyone must.

Everyone has a must, what mythologist Joseph Campbell refers to as “bliss.”

Here we find our wisdom, too.  This life of must or bliss emerges from our humility – that is, our true self (not thinking too high or too low of ourselves); our gratitude – our growing appreciation of all that we have and all that is around us; and our faithfulness – daily seeking ways of living who we are and what we have into some or other expression.  Wisdom is what we know and imagine, and also what we do and give:

‘Activity and reflection should ideally complement and support each other.  Action is blind, reflection impotent.’*

Wisdom cannot be grown in simple systems, either.  It isn’t about repeating, but moving and developing.  Like the sprinter when the gun has fired, human consciousness has taken our hands away and we have to run ourselves upright or stumble and fall.

This must is what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would call our authentic project, meaning it comes from within:

‘Authentic projects tend to be intrinsically motivated, chosen for what they are worth in themselves; inauthentic one are motivated by external forces.’^

While must or bliss will produce our systems, the inauthentic project depends on external systems to operate well in order to gain the maximum benefit from it.  The authentic, however, doesn’t wait on the external but is always moving forward.  It produces its own wisdom, whilst at the same time, fully appreciating what it has to receive from those who have gone before, as Csikszentmihalyi reminds us:

‘To discard the hard-won information on how to live accumulated by our ancestors, or to expect to discover a viable set of goals all be oneself, is misguided hubris.’^

Wisdom is the result of each person’s journey of activity and reflection: via activa and via contemplativa as they were once understood and practised.  When we discover and invent ways of bringing this together then we are exploring what David Weinberger is imagining in the delightful long subtitle to his book Too Big To Know, which ends with:

and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room’.^^

(*From Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth.)
(**Kerry Hillcoat, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.
(^From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.)
(^^From David Weinberger’s Too Big to Know.)

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