Baffled, amazed, undone

“If we are not sometimes baffled and amazed and undone by the world around us, rendered speechless and stunned, perhaps we are not paying close enough attention.” –Ben Marcus

Perhaps we are sleepwalking through life, trudging obliviously through the pattern we’ve grooved and smoothed to protect ourselves from the unevenness, from the surprises of reality.

Moments of genuine, bracing presence shine in my memory for their rarity.

You can’t live in perpetual amazement. (Some do, I suppose. Mystics or saints or those we deem crazy and avoid on the sidewalk.)

But even occasional doses of bafflement—with the infinite sky, with the joy or anguish of an open heart, with the sheer oddity of being alive and aware—would be a potent enough tonic for our numbness.

Pay attention. Come undone. Be amazed.

It’s all about relationships

I somewhat randomly clicked on this TED Talk by Harvard researcher Robert Waldinger this week.

He has carried on the research in one of the longest running research projects of its kind, the Harvard Study of Adult Development. For more than 75 years data has been collected that has led to some clear answers about what makes for a good life.

Younger people tend to predict that fortune and fame will lead to happiness. That prediction doesn’t hold up.

Studying older people who have lived more life shows there is one key indicator for happier and healthier lives.

It’s actually simple and ultimately rather obvious. According to Waldinger and the study’s research, this is your ticket to a good life:

“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

It’s all about relationships.

Not only will you have a happier life if it’s built around positive relationships, you’ll live a healthier and longer life as well:

“The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.”

Even brain health and mental function were notably better later in life for those who reported stronger connections in their relationships.

Waldinger closed his talk with this:

“The people who fared the best were the people who leaned in to relationships—with family, with friends, with community.”

“The good life is built with good relationships.”

I think most people will say they want a life filled with good relationships, but how often are we intentional about investing in our connections with family and friends and community?

What if you “leaned in” to the relationships that matter most? Imagine making family and friends your true priority in the way you spend your time and where you devote your greatest energy and creativity.

If you want a satisfying life, career success and financial well-being should be subordinate to the strength of the connections you make with the people who matter most.

If you don’t have close friends, make some. If your family life is suffering, get busy making it better. If you don’t have a community that you support and that supports you, do something about it.

Life as a human here on Earth is ultimately all about relationships.

“There isn’t time—so brief is life—for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving—and but an instant, so to speak, for that.” –Mark Twain



MLK and the long arc of the moral universe

 This is a fitting day to reflect on a couple of profound thoughts from Dr. King.

The first is on Apple’s home page today: 

And this one offers credible hope when the future appears dismal: 

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

No matter how bleak or infuriating human progress may look in the moment, we have come a long way. 

And in the long run, we will go even further. 

We will get there faster, though, if more people more regularly pondered the question in the first quote above.