So many of us get caught up in the rush to answer email or do other tasks on the computer that we forget or ignore many things that make life worth living. I found it refreshing to read the thoughts shared with me by Marian Griffey. Hope you will enjoy and appreciate her point of view.
In the Pursuit of Service
Malcolm Gladwell, author of “Outliers” and other insightful books, has unknowingly been one of my best “tools” in my personal toolbox for pain management. So often, I doubt my ability to endure the multifaceted causes of my chronic pain. Physical fatigue seems to hold a magnifying glass over the underlying causes, making even the smallest pain seem enormous, too big to handle. On those occasions when the body is weary from lack of healing sleep, and the barometric pressure reaches a level that wraps my entire body in its squeezing grip, and the daily news undermines my faith that “humane” has not been eliminated from humanity’s mind and willingness – such times give birth to limitless self-doubt.
doubt: (Latin) hesitation
Gladwell’s sensible approach to how things get to be the way they are helps me free myself from such hesitations in Life. His words remind me of the “how” I lost sight of goal (to be of service to others). More, he lays out the formula of “how” to help other like-minded people rediscover mutual benefits. For “service to others” becomes “mutual service” – a way of self-service (minus all self-serving aspects).
According to Gladwell, there are three qualities of work (service to others) that result in feeling fulfilled and producing a sense of meaningfulness.
- a sense of autonomy – that inner assurance that, not only can “it” be done, but more than that … assurance that “I can do it!” The “it” varies, of course, and the “I can” fluctuates by degrees according to the pain levels of the moment. A moment’s degree of hesitation in our self-confidence can provide an opportunity to reflect upon past times when we felt similar doubt and yet persevered. Within those brain-files of memories, we can find that sense of autonomy we need once again. By that act of kindness-to-self, we become empowered to return to being of service to others. The more we practice this, and the more of us who are practicing this, the more mutual our service becomes. Quality of work becomes more fulfilling, more meaningful.
- a degree of complexity – and what work could be more complex than that of being of mutual service to one another? As chronic pain touches all four aspects of our being (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), every moment of pain represents a complexity of separate and interconnected elements, not only of who we are but also our personal history. From the date of our birth, to the geographic location, to the cultural and genetic inheritance in our genes – every person is so complex! An enigma of mysterious and wondrous proportions! Ergo, the work of service to others is one of the most complex kinds of work that could ever be undertaken. Each person is not a “simple” story. Every case of chronic pain is not a “simple” cause-n-solution event.
- a measurable reward in direct proportion to the amount of effort invested – In helping myself, I am rewarded with ability to help another. In helping others, I am rewarded by the evidence of their improved sense of autonomy, increased appreciation for the complexity of just being alive in this world, and the look on their face of inner “reward” of improved pain management, a return to being of service to others, and willingness to let hesitation (doubt) serve them as opportunity to rediscover their “I can!”
The secret to “mutual service” lies within this 3-point formula of how to make “service to others” fulfilling and meaningful. Like in most other forms of work, it begins with self. If the longest relationship that I will ever have is with my own self, then why not work toward making this the best relationship I will ever have? Relationships are by their very nature a work of mutual effort. By learning the three qualities necessary to make this (or any other type of work) both fulfilling and meaningful, I make myself beneficial to myself as well as to others. Thus, we learn to BE mutually beneficial.
(old proverb) Many hands make light work.
Mutual service does not have to be difficult, regardless of the challenges we encounter. My hands are willing to work in service to others. Bring your hands of similar willingness into that formula and we will find ourselves making light work together. (Double entendre intended.)
We will also discover that “pain management” need not feel like a prison sentence. Our individual toolbox can hold countless “tools” with which we continually learn, re-learn, and un-learn management principles.
management: from the same root-word for ‘manipulate’ – the skillful use of tools
My skills are not the same as yours. What works one day may not work the next. What one person feels to be a fulfilling and meaningful “tool” in their management program may not prove likewise in another. Becoming skillful with tools requires practice; lots and lots of practice. So too, pain management requires lots and lots of practice in remembering how to be your own best relationship. It is, as Gladwell would say, a most fulfilling and meaningful work of mutual service.
5 May 2021 © Marian Lovene Griffey
ACPA Pain Management Support Group facilitator;
Gainesville, FL chapter