The drive to flourish fully is as natural as the everyday hunger for food.
But so many of us aren't flourishing. Relationship problems. Financial problems. Social problems. General dissatisfaction. Deep misery. Burnout. Sometimes it feels like nothing is working.
And now, for over a year,
we have been living through an extended endurance trauma - lockdowns, masks, curfews, social distancing, isolation, ongoing messages from all sides instilling fear of a virus, economic disaster for millions. The rules keep changing, so we can't even adjust to one stable set of circumstances.
How do we get to life as we can feel it can be? With inner stability, despite outer instability and dangers. With close connections, work satisfaction, civic connection, an inner sense of power. With more courage than fear. With passion and the curiosity to explore. With contentment and joy. And also with a society with safety, stability, justice.
There's even more reason for Full Flourishing. Most personal development approaches miss vital things. For instance, there's a lot on feelings and beliefs - generally very little or nothing on perceiving and thinking. For instance, there's a lot on all people having love within - generally very little or nothing on recognizing and dealing with badness. For instance, there's generally a lot on the world changing if we change - generally very little or nothing on recognizing what is going on. Finally, there's often little or nothing on the importance of social awareness and activism for full flourishing.
I have 2 things for you:
* what I believe is an adequate model of a fully flourishing person, because every model I found had vital stuff missing;
* and a reliable 3-part process for moving toward full flourishing -
ACE - A.C.E. - awareness, caring, engagement. It is a process of lifelong growth.
Here's an overview, plus a story about my father, and a bit about myself.
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Elsa is a spiritual healer and a brilliant writer and thinker. She is also for me a pillar of strength and a voice of reason.
And her music videos are a reminder that there is a beauty in this world too!
Nicole Davidoff, passionate advocate of human rights and freedoms, passionately against any ideology that is totalitarian, cat lover
When I came upon Elsa's work, I had been galvanised to protest by the horrific slaughter of children in the Manchester bombing . . . But I felt isolated, downcast and daunted by the mountainous size of the problems. I have always been utterly anti-racist, but my friends thought I had become a bigot. I didn't know what to do.
Elsa's amazing, inspirational work has become a beacon of light to me, . . . which I desperately needed to become tougher, more confident, and much more active. . . . Thank you, Elsa, so much for all you have done to embolden me, and nurture my development. I am truly grateful!
Mary Andrew, working for a voice in mainstream politics
Elsa has a unique talent to clarify issues and motivate people. Elsa has also taught me to not give up even when confronted by obstacles. . . . She is an inspiration and an example!
Ramachandra B. Abhyankar, associate professor
Long ago, the university where I was getting my MA offered students 18 free counseling sessions. But I saw them as for other people. After all, other people had problems, and I didn't. Well, there was one little thing. I easily got angry at small stuff, and hated myself for it. So I eventually decided, I'll take 2 or 3 sessions, get rid of the anger.
18 sessions later, I had a dream. I'm coming out of a changing room at the side of a huge high school gym. I notice my therapist - chubby, unstylishly dressed, unstylish hair - effortlessly running laps around the gym, not even short of breath.
Those 18 sessions were the first steps into
a decades-long journey on my quest for full flourishing - a journey that has included trying just about everything,
from psychoanalysis to breath work to neurobiological approaches. It all started with a small bit of awareness. One awareness led to another. Each exploration led further. There were also long breaks. And then something else would emerge.
My growing interest in personal growth led to a triple disciplinary PhD - Psychology, Sociology, Cultural Theory. My research and experience also led me to believe that an important component of the human development movement is undoing deep inner fears. This ties in with neurobiological findings on how inner constrictions can be passed on in the DNA, through activating or suppressing different genes.
My doctoral thesis explores the role of fear as the underpinning of constricting forces in society; ways this fear can be passed down generation after generation; and ways of undoing this fear. An underlying question: can a deeply embedded fear actually be undone - or are we condemned, like Freud's Oedipus, to be caught generation after generation in a fear-based struggle? My conclusion: yes, it can be undone; but generally it isn't easy. It's much easier to get stymied or stuck.
Another conclusion: most personal growth movements miss vital stuff, especially relating to the importance of perceiving accurately, thinking well, and having a strong healthy
involvement with the larger social world.
But humans have gotten into outer space. I see the quest for full flourishing as an even more important quest.
I've ended up teaching in 6 departments at the university and college level: Humanities, Education, English, Film Studies, Women's Studies and Sociology. I was long a tenured Humanities prof at John Abbott College.
One popular course I developed and taught for over 10 years was Knowing the Inner Self, which gave students an overview of the human development movement.
believe the human development movement is as central to our time as the technological advances. I also believe that the hunger for full flourishing is a natural human hunger - like the everyday hunger for food, a healthy part of everyday life. In other words this is an ongoing journey.
A more general commitment is to truth - figuring out what the truth is on many subjects, in many areas, and then getting the truth told. This commitment ties with the commitment to full flourishing.
I see that accepting what we're told blocks our flourishing and the well-being of our society.
I've developed what I believe is an adequate model for a full flourishing person, plus a 3-part process for change - extremely flexible, so it can be used if we have one small problem, if we are facing a major crisis, or if we're dealing with the impact of an ongoing
Right now we're living an extended endurance trauma, fear instilled from so many sources, lack of stability as the rules are changed over and over. All of society is disrupted, in upheaval. Lockdowns with massive impact in all areas of life. Closures and openings. Businesses. Schools. Travel.
I see a huge need for a solid reliable process to encourage people to learn more ways to release stress, process
the instabilities, develop an inner sense of security even while looking closely at what is happening - and see how they can contribute toward a safe, stable society.
ACE - A.C.E. - awareness, caring, engagement - provides that, especially though the option of ongoing support.
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