I have recently been challenged to look closely at the work I am so passionate about – namely helping people learn to coach others to improved well being. I have always been of the belief that this is indeed if not “noble” work, at the very least, valuable and significant in contributing to a better world. Where more people are living a lifestyle that helps them thrive and gain greater life satisfaction.
Then along comes the challenge, in the form of one of my favourite sociologists, Hugh McKay with his latest book “The Good Life”. The book addresses what exactly constitutes a “good life” and McKay quite clearly states his belief that the, shall we say “value” of our life, can only really be judged by the quality of our interactions with others. In other words, instead of being focused on our own happiness, well being or energy levels, we ideally would focus on giving back, being part of a community and treating people in the way we wish to be treated.
“Oh dear”, I think to myself. “Where does optimal energy levels, good physical health and the occasional burst of joy fit here? Suddenly I felt, if not diminished, challenged to work out how my work fit into this bigger, altruistic picture.
But of course, as always, I have put this latest viewpoint into the melting pot of ideas I have of my own and find that they are complementary in the following way.
Hugh MacKay advocates caring for others as being more important than personal achievement. If the two were to be measured, I would agree. The latter cannot be rewarded or applauded if it is at the expense of the former. He believes that society has fallen into the trap of striving for constant happiness and the achievement of personal goals with no room for acceptance of the fact that life is hard, often throws unexpected sadness, tragedy or misfortune at us and without the negative emotions of grief, disappointment or frustration, we would not be able to recognise. But more important than any of that is the need to live and work together as a community and if we can live according to those values, the world will indeed benefit.
There are many other reasons why I think this growing profession has value. Those are just two of them that suggest we contribute to people living “A Good Life”. Hope Hugh agrees with me.