Is This all There Is?

The Three C’s:  All We Really Want…

shutterstock_173444003Through all my work with people over the past several years, I have come to the conclusion that beyond the basic needs of existing on the planet, three categories of desires help to bring us to what Maslow called “Self-Actualization”. It’s a big term for something we all crave, and it can cause a feeling of yearning when we don’t have it. People feel as though something’s missing; thoughts like, “Is this all there is?” can cause depression or cause non-productive or unhealthy behaviors and attitudes. When we don’t feel as though we have purpose, we can feel unfocused, confused, frustrated, and generally disengaged.

So, what are the three C’s? Simple. Connect, Count, Contribute. These are the three areas that we can focus on to make our time here more meaningful.

Connect:  Fist we must understand our basic need for connection to others. When we feel disconnected from the people and the planet, we are not likely to find value in anything, and more often than not, that lack of value attitude is turned inward. Being connected does not mean that you need to be a social butterfly, it means that you have the basic understanding and belief that we are all connected all the time. We have far more in common with each other than we often recognize. Feeling connected means acknowledging connection to our loved ones, our friends, our acquaintances, and even our enemies. In connection we find peace and productive attitudes. In disconnection we find hate and turmoil, which literally breaks our bodies down at a cellular level.


Count:  Second, we need to feel as though we count; we matter. Where do we get this feeling of value? It can come from our connection to others, but it can also come from our connection to nature, to spiritual beliefs, and most importantly to self. You have skills and strengths that matter. When we don’t feel valued by others, it is important to consider that this is an illusion—an interpretation that is not valid. Understanding and accepting personal strengths can overcome this. Think of some of our social norms that make this “C” difficult. For example, accepting a compliment can be brutally hard for women. Why? Another example might be self-deprecating humor. This can be helpful for us sometimes, but when used too often it belies an unhealthy and warped self-belief.


Contribute:  Last, when we don’t feel purpose, or that we can contribute, we do not feel fulfilled. Understanding mission in life is a noble, enduring quest that eludes many. It’s not something you can purchase; that is why so many wealthy people are still so empty and unhappy. We all want to win the lottery, but without a personal mission—a deep knowing of purpose—the void will never be filled.


Practical Practices

  1. Pay attention to when you feel connected or disconnected to someone. Try to just be the observer and practice non-judgment of yourself and others. Judgment separates us from each other. Hold even the most dis-likable person in a space of acceptance and see how it feels. When we judge and hate, we harm ourselves.
  2. Spend time with someone you value. When you see their strengths, you might start to appreciate your own. This has the dual purpose of also helping them to see their own value.
  3. Write your personal mission statement. There is no one correct way to do this, and there are no wrong answers.
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