It Takes a Village

There is an African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I will go further and say that it takes a village to sustain a healthy human.

We live in such an individualistic society. Day old babies live in a crib alone. We think that if a child doesn’t have a bed all to himself, the parents are neglectful. Our kids let themselves in the house after school and are often alone until the parents come home from work. When we leave our parents’ house, we live alone. We keep our thoughts, hands, and dreams to ourselves. When we need help, we pay someone – a mechanic, therapist, lawyer, or handyman. Then we often go off to a senior living center to die alone.

For most of us, that’s not a good life. It takes a village to sustain a healthy human. When we stop thinking like individuals, we will have a shot at reaching that potential. Why? Because everything is part of a system. If one piece of it is sick, the whole is also impacted.

For example, when someone is being treated for addiction, they may go into rehab. There they are presumably given healthy food, support, education, and the addictive element is unavailable. In short, they are in a healthy, supportive system. After a period of time, the person is pronounced “well” and is released back into the same sick environment that created the addiction.

This is why addiction is so notoriously difficult to treat. It’s not an individual problem. It’s a society problem. This doesn’t mean that the individual isn’t responsible for his actions or recovery. It just means that every part of a system impacts every other part. When we are not connected, don’t care, and don’t see our fellow man, and aren’t even tuned into our own self, it’s easy for dis-ease to happen. When dis-ease is rampant, crime, rage, mental illness, financial crises, illness, environmental strife, and spiritual trouble increase throughout society.

So, what can you do? You can’t be responsible for the whole of society, of course, but you can be responsible for yourself.  Just as a dis-eased part of the whole can create damage, healthy parts spread love and light. So here are some suggestions for what you can do to make you the best that you can be.

  • Eat fresh alive foods. Your body runs off natural substances. When you ingest chemicals, preservatives, and artificial substances, you’re more likely to be mentally and physically sluggish.
  • Get outside. Nature is revitalizing. The more time you spend outside, the more connection that you have with nature. We need the earth, animals, and plants to survive. If you are connected to these things, you are more likely to conserve and protect them.
  • Meditate and/or practice mindfulness. This creates space for you to hear yourself think. It allows stress and the busyness of the day to dissipate. This can make you less reactive, more pleasant to be around, and more centered. Being in tune with yourself, others, and the environment benefits everyone.
  • Be your authentic self. We all need each other. We need teachers, healers, farmers, bankers, mothers, inventors, scientists, athletes, and entertainers to create a whole society. Nobody can do it all.
  • Practice gratitude. Gratitude is an essential ingredient to happiness, spirituality, and connection.
  • Teach from your heart space. Sometimes people teach out of anger, like an angry parent or teacher beating or yelling at a child. Some teach out of ego, like a mentor who wants to feel self-important. When you share from your heart, the lessons are more easily accepted.
  • Never stop learning. Life is a teacher. If your eyes and heart are open, you can learn something in almost every moment. Always be open to upgrading your skills. You will never regret it.
  • Be social. Not everyone needs the same type of amount of social interaction, but we all need other people. Make an effort to spend time with those you love and trust. Eating with someone is especially beneficial.
  • Care for the young and elderly. Children are the future. They need nurturing and guidance to become healthy leaders. The elderly have wisdom that younger people can benefit from if only given the opportunity to share. Cherish them both!
  • Volunteer. Contributing to another person, a cause or society is one of the motivational drives that we all have. When you contribute, you feel more whole. You also learn about other people in a way that you never could from books or movies. This also creates connection.
  • Travel. Nothing broadens the mind like travel. Going to centers of innovation, development, culture, or art can inspire and motivate. Spending time in the big outdoors can rejuvenate. Being with people who are not like you can help you to see yourself.
  • Share. Be a bridge for someone who is less healthy, less educated, or less fortunate than you to get to where you are. If we all lifted another person up, the baseline of society would also increase. Then we could do it again and again until the baseline is healthy and there are just pockets of dis-ease.

Your health and welfare is your responsibility. Once you achieve it, reach out and be a bridge to help someone else. We all need healthy families, social circles, workplaces, and communities. Let yourself be a hub of light that shines into all spheres of your life and beyond. If you lift yourself up, and help someone else, we will soon have a healthy village.

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