Can you shift your orientation in life from what would be good for you to what would be good for the generation who’ll come after you, and the generation after that?
It’s not an easy question to address.
For a start, you own immediate needs are always right before you. And then there is the matter of your own likes and dislikes, the preferences you’ve built up over time which quietly influence your decisions, with you perhaps hardly noticing. And there’s the matter of prediction – you might hardly be able to tell how your actions are going to turn out in your own life over the next week or two let alone across decades.
So it’s far from a trivial matter to respond to a multi-generational responsibility towards your life or in your work.
But I think there are places you can start, and one of them is tracking the effect you have on the people around you who will, of course, go on to affect others. It’s one of the ways our own contribution, of whatever sort, ripples out across time.
Some questions you could take up in exploring this topic:
What kind of interactions did you have with each person you met – your colleagues, your customers, your friends, your family – today?
Did your speech, and how you made contact, have you and the other person feel more or less human? More or less dignified? More or less resourceful? More or less grateful? More or less generous? More or less alive?
How do you think the way you’ve left them will have them affect others they meet – straight after you, or later, when they go home?
Are you a force for dignity or diminishment in your interactions?
For the cultivation of life, or a chain of tiny deaths?