What if we looked at our lives in terms of degrees of contribution rather than degrees of wellness or illness?
What if the scale by which we assess our worth is not based on how we are doing, but how we are contributing?
If we did this, then we would have to rethink what it means to contribute.
I just went to a women’s retreat, where I led some meditations and taught about racial justice. One of my co-presenters led a presentation on bodies and how to link body, heart and mind together.
She led a gratitude meditation.
During this meditation, I was able to visualize my dog who just died, my grandma who died several years ago, my uncle who died last April, and several other dear times of my life that I tend to remember with despair because I lost my initial career when mental health issues came up.
All I had was gratitude for them. Usually I think about them through a lens of loss and tragedy.
What I realized was lenses matter, and I can think of my life in terms of degrees of contribution rather than in terms of the profound losses that I have suffered.
Right now, my contribution is as a wife, daughter, and pray-er, and also I donate to places.
Rather than thinking about how I used to contribute more as a teacher in a PhD program, or as a high school teacher, or as someone who was planning on becoming a mother, I can think about how the lives I touched as a teacher are touched even though it was in the past and I can’t teach anymore. How when I foster children in the future, I will be mothering them even though I can’t have my own, and that I can mentor as a tutor. And how I teach with my life as a blogger.
I just lived through a rough patch for the last couple of months, though it was nothing like my first years of illness. It was much more manageable this time around. Rather than thinking of it that way, however, I can think that my life itself is a contribution because I pray for others, I was still writing, and I submitted a book manuscript for publication.
Even when I’m not well, I pray. And you can, too.
That is the best contribution of all, and it is accessible to everyone. If you’re not feeling well, try it out: think in terms of degrees of contribution rather than how you’re doing.
Think about degrees of contribution rather than degrees of wellness or illness.
You matter. Contribute mindfully. Contribute meaningfully.
Pray. For yourself and others.