Thursday, October 28, 2010

Birthday Wishes and Personal Greatness

What happens on your birthday? Do friends, family and loved ones let you know how much you mean in their lives? Do you know by the end of the day that you matter to someone? Well, their wishes, or at least their presence in your life matter toward achieving your personal greatness.

October 28th is my birthday. Starting days earlier I celebrated with my partner, then on a different evening my business partner. On my birthday itself I received calls, cards, emails, and notices on Facebook from friends and family wishing me well. And it was on the train to Washington DC for work on my birthday that I realized the importance of all those well-wishers. I know I have a community that supports me because of who I am. Though it might be possible to achieve personal greatness alone without a supportive community, it is much more difficult.

Psychology has long understood the importance of the support of family and friends. Yet more and more we live in an isolating society that propels us away from our family and friends for the pursuit of our career. However, cut off from a supportive community, we lack the emotional and psychological backup if our resources are depleted. In other words, without a community it is difficult to always have the strength to be our best.

Positive relationships is one of the pillars to psychologically flourishing, according to Dr. Marty Seligman, and in Well Being, Tom Rath identifies it as one of the essential elements to well-being. Rath even states that we need six hours a day (that includes conversations, phone calls, texts and emails) of interaction with others to thrive in community well-being. Well-being and flourishing are essential to achieving personal greatness and a supportive community is a major factor in both of those psychological states.

Going it alone or rugged individualism hasn't stopped some individuals from achieving personal greatness, but I'm certain it didn't help them. So create a supportive community around you and watch what happens. The community doesn't have to be big, just supportive. Better yet, cultivate a community that both cherishes and challenges you to be at your best and you will see the results.

Perhaps birthdays aren't the best gauge of a healthy community of friends and family. But I know I can rely on them to support me when necessary and push me when appropriate. And at least one time a year, its nice to know they are all there.


Lisa Sansom said...

I think this is one of the great benefits of Facebook. Not only does it remind us of when friends' birthdays are, but it's easy to post a simple little birthday wish on that friend's wall - no planning ahead, no stamps, almost no time required - yet that moment of thought and action is filled with meaning.

It also makes me think of the other things we do (and could do) during a regular day that also require no planning, no money and almost no time. Things like saying "thank you" or a smile or a hug. Other little moments that are filled with meaning. How much would those add to someone's day?

Happy birthday!

Greatness Project said...

Social media makes it easier to interact. But I wonder if the ease and immediacy of the gesture (sending someone a birthday wish) can easily be dismissed by the person receiving it?
It takes discipline to both remember to give positive affirmations and savor them when they are given to us.
I'm still working on all of that.