To live, to love, to learn, and to leave a legacy

In the comfort of her warm room, Angie opened a book and started reading:

“There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfillment. If these basic needs aren’t met, we feel empty, incomplete.” 

“Human fulfillment”, she found herself wondering, “umm… I have been looking for answers about fulfillment. For some time, I thought I was the only one searching for answers regarding this subject. I wonder what are these basic needs. I will keep reading to learn more.”

“We may try to fill the void through urgency addition. Or we may become complacent, temporarily satisfied with partial fulfillment.

But whether or not we fully acknowledge or address these needs on a conscious level, deep inside we know they are there. And they are important. We can validate them through our own experience. We can validate them through the experiences of other people. We can validate them through our combined experience that stretches around the globe and throughout time. These needs have been recognized in the wisdom literature (which is the portion of the classic, philosophical, and inspirational literature of a society that deals specifically with the art of living) throughout time as vital areas as human fulfillment.

The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase “to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy.” The need to live is our physical need for such things as food, clothing, shelter, economic well-being, health. The need to love is our social need to relate to other people, to belong, to love, to be loved. The need to learn is our mental need to develop and to grow. And the need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution.

How powerfully do these needs affect our time and the quality of our lives? You may find it helpful to think about the questions below:

* Do you have sustained energy and physical capacity throughout the day – or are there things you’d like to do that you can’t do because you feel tired, ill, or out of shape?

* Are you in a position of financial security? Are you able to meet your own needs and have resources set aside for the future – or are you in debt, working long hours, and barely scraping by?

* Do you have rich, satisfying relationships with others? Are you able to work with others effectively to accomplish common purposes – or do you feel alienated and alone, unable to spend quality time with the people you love, or challenged in trying to work with others because of misunderstanding, miscommunication, politicking, backbiting, or blaming and accusing?

* Are you constantly learning, growing, gaining new perspectives, acquiring new skills – or do you feel stagnant? Are you being held back from career advancement or other things you’d like to do because you don’t have the education or skills?

* Do you have a clear sense of direction and purpose that inspires and energizes you – or do you feel vague about what’s important to you and unclear about what you really want to do with your life?

And Angie read and re-read the above text. She thoughts about the basic needs and found them legitimate. She thought about the need to live which is the physical need and wondered if she is really alive. She pondered about how the physical need is met through “food, clothing, shelter, economic well-being and health.” And she found out that compared to a large group of people, this need is somehow met in her life.

And then, she pondered about the second need, the social one: the need to love. Was she relating healthily with people around her? Was she able to relate to other people? Does she feel that she belongs? Does she feel loved? Cared for? Is she entertaining nurturing relationships? And to these questions she didn’t want to examine carefully anything in her life. She wanted to flee, to stop reading, to run away from the book and especially from her own thoughts…

She felt her mind drifting to the third need: the mental need. Was she constantly learning, growing, gaining new perspectives, acquiring new skills at her work? Was she stuck in an unrewarding job? Was she in a stagnant environment where nothing seems to move? Was she growing? Was she climbing any ladder at all? Or is she walking on a long silent moving sands?  Is she making any progress in any area of her life?

With all these questions in her mind, the fourth need started to dance in front of her eyes:  Does she have any sense of purpose? Does she know where she was going, how or why? Was she feeling inspired by anything? How does she want to be remembered? What does she want to leave behind her?

So now what ? Angie thought to herself.

Thank you for reading

(The passages in italic are from the Book “First Things First” by Stephen Covery, A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R. Merrill.)

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