When you look at this illustration, which group did you identify with? Winnie and company? Or Calvin and Hobbes? Outside your preference for one cartoon character, I mean. Did you feel the way it might feel when someone comes into Your Territory? Or did you feel like C& H, lost and wandering within a foreign forest?
When I first saw this, I was curious. Although on many a given Monday, I might feel like Eeyore the donkey with some doom ‘n gloom attitude, I hope I’ve never looked down into my own valley with such uninviting eyes. So I like to think I’d be the inviting Pooh character, sliding down the tree trunk and introducing myself to Hobbes. Maybe Calvin first, I am not sure. Getting to know something or someone outside your own forest is thrilling and it is also scary business. Risky stuff for a girl like me.
Think of a triangle, with the pointy part at the top. The bottom or the wide base of this triangle of well-being concerns issues of security (a warm place to sleep at night, milk and butter in the frig, basic health).
When our life is best illustrated by the above photo, our triangle of “well-being” would be one flat plane. If we are sharing that spot of earth with these cows, we’d not be thinking about Mozart or say, tug boats on the Hudson. We would be entirely occupied with security, the base of our triangle. So to speak.
Should that basic sense of security become established (the rain stops, the waters recede, the pizza man delivers) then we can add a layer on top of that base. We’ve begun to build our triangle of well-being.
Up next? Another layer that involves our emotional needs: a sense of community, a sense of belonging and a sense of self-worth or esteem.
Once that layer is stable, we can move up another level and work on the spiritual and humanistic emotional realm. Here’s where we spend time working towards our “full potential” (oy! whatever that might be). If the first two layers of our triangle are iffy, we won’t be spending much time here.
What’s after that? A layer that addresses our need for harmony in art and intellect. I know, that’s what I said! Who would guess that most of us reading this would relate to the way we’ve been drawn to some sort of creative expression. Art? Writing? Mapping? Photography? Music? Snoring in synch with the television? Making graphs of subjective well-being? Stomping grapes in Italy?
Here’s a graph to smile at; it shows us how we rate our sense of well-being:
*Oh, those were the days!*
I am pretty sure we know about the twenty-something factor illustrated above. And some of us know about the forty-something crash illustrated above. But I am more interested in the climb on the right side of the graph.
What does it take to climb out of that crash? What is at the very top of the triangle of well-being?
The ability to take a risk. Without risk, we stagnate. We cannot climb. For Pooh and Company, the risk of sliding down the tree trunks to meet Calvin and Hobbes is maybe too much for them. However, if you have had any experience with these guys, you will know that some of these guys will, in fact, slide down the tree and meet Calvin.
And you’ll know that Eeyore won’t and you’ll know already that Eeyore is rather depressed and disengaged in life. I don’t want to be Eeyore (except on Monday mornings). I want to take the risk, take the slide down into my valley and greet Hobbes. And then maybe take Calvin and him on a tug boat ride that starts halfway across the world from where I am.