The stoic philosophers spoke of Sympatheia, or mutual interdependence - When other people suffer, we suffer. When the world suffers, we suffer.
It's a concept that Roman Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius described as:
“what is bad for the hive is bad for the bee“
Or perhaps flip it to, what's good for the hive is good for the bee.
Stoics, then and now, pose that realizing the connection to each other pushes people to be good and do good for each other. “The universe made rational creatures for the sake of each other, with an eye toward mutual benefit and never for harm”.
We are all part of the same larger organism, the same ecosystem. We all share the same substance. We all breathe the same air. We all descend from the same long chain of evolution and we all have a role to play in the larger web of life.
In theory, sympatheia is quite applicable to navigating the world today. But how do we put theory into practice? That's the challenge.
In her spectacular book The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life, Dr. Edith Eger gives us many pragmatic steps and suggestions for taking strong upsetting emotions and difficult (and even dangerous) situations and turning them into gifts that help us grow as interrelated individuals within communities - aka bees in our hive.
As a teenage survivor of Auschwitz, and then an escapee from Communist Hungary as a young mother, Dr, Eger knows immense suffering and fear. And she knows first hand how in both the most dire of circumstances and in common everyday, community and connection are lifesavers. She reminds us that,
"Hope is the boldest act of imagination I know."
In a high speed modern world in climate crisis, during a ravaging pandemic, in a society and political system completely divided and seemingly hell-bent on destroying itself and the planet, imagination can help save us.
We must cultivate hope for the future and the present. Creativity and connection are tools for doing just that that.
Look at how scientists working to the max overtime created a vaccine that is saving lives around the world! That's Creative cognition with a capital C!
Masks on, Full Vaccinations up! Let's end this thing!
Why is refusing vaccines rooted in systemic racism and colonialism, and an abuse of privilege, particularly american privilege, that the global south can't afford? To learn more from Dr. Ayesha Khan, Click here!
Hope, gratitude, and community building are revolutionary acts we can embrace everyday. They support imagination, creativity, and help us envision how to charge a path to a healthy equitable future for all life on Earth.
"Hope isn't the white paint we use to cover up our suffering. It's an investment in curiosity." ~Dr. Eger
She goes on to remind us,
"We're born to love; we learn to hate. It's up to us what we reach for." ~Dr. Eger
Life hits us with unexpected blows. It's inevitable, and it won't stop. That's living. So it's up to us how we choose to respond, rather than react.
I invite you to join me in choosing hope, imagination, curiosity, and connection building in ways that are safe and feel authentic to you, your situation, and your community. One way to start is by practicing gratitude. Gratitude clears a path in our minds that allows us to take meaningful concrete action.
"Yes, we do need hope, of course, we do. But the one thing we need more than hope is action.
Once we start to act, hope is everywhere.”
This Wonder Wednesday 109, we are so lucky to be joined by Monica Moran aka The Creative Beast!
This powerhouse of a woman is infinitely inspiring! She has talent flowing from her pores, compassion pouring from her heart, and vivacity bursting from her being.
& She has gifted a Gratitude Tag printable funsheet to us!
Print a stack of these sweet tags to remind yourself of things, big and small, that bring you hope. Leave these tags on the doorknobs of your friends, family, and neighbors with a little list of things you are grateful for about them.
Wonder Wednesday 109:
Print off your Gratitude Tag Color and Craft Template onto 80/90 lb weight paper.
Print as many as you need and/or like!
1. If doing this project with children. which I highly recommend:
Speak with them about what gratitude is, what they are grateful for in their own lives, and ways they can express gratitude to both themselves and their communities.
2. Color the tag.
3. Cut the tag out.
4. On the back, write your gratefulness list.
5. If you like, punch out a hole at the top of the tag and tie some ribbon, yarn or other fiber through the hole to make a hangtag. 6-8 inches is a good length.
6. Hang the tag where you, or the person to whom you are gifting gratefulness tag, can see it often. Be reminded of the abundance of the present, and inspire hope and imagination for the future!
Use this tag in an art or nature journal
Use the tag as a book mark
Use the tag as a to/from tag on a gift!
Follow Monica on Instagram @monicathecreativebeast for lots more creative compassionate projects and inspiration!
Where could you leave a gratitude tag to surprise someone?
Share in the comments below!
Share photos of your tags on Instagram #wingswormsandwonder
Seeds to Sprout
Monica, The Creative Beast!
For more fun, inspiring, relaxing and meaningful art journaling, book making, coloring projects - and Sewing Courses!!!, Check out Monica's work and Follow her on Instagram!
Dr. Edith Eger
Learn more about Dr. Eger's mind blowing life experiences and how she turned immense trauma into a life and work of joy, hope, imagination, curiosity, gifts, choices, and most of all, love.
Inspired to embrace gifts of gratitude even in the face of adversity? Get inspired by artists and activists who face the sublime and are helping build a better world for us all.