At Christmas, we tend to take time out to renew our connections with our family and friends, with nature and with what transcends our day-to-day existence. However, people who have suffered job loss through downsizing may have an abiding sense of disconnection – a loss of connection with their job, their colleagues and their social network.
It is not just the people who lose their jobs who are impacted, their sense of loss is shared by people in their personal social network. Nicolas Christakis demonstrates the hidden influence of social networks and explains how emotion and attendant behaviour spread through a social network over time, so that the impact of a single event, e.g. job loss, spreads like the concentric circles that progressively form when a stone is thrown into a river.
The flip-side of a focus on what we have lost, however, is gratitude for what we do have and recognition of the creative opportunities present in the new order of things.
Nature, beauty and gratitude
When we suffer loss, it is hard to value what we have. Christmas reminds us of what we have through our connection with family and friends. We can also become more attuned to the beauty of nature because we take time to stop and reflect.
Louie Schwartzberg, through his stunning time-lapse photography, reminds us of the beauty of nature and our connection with it and with everyone else. He is described as:
…an award-winning cinematographer, director and producer who captures breathtaking images that celebrate life – revealing connections, universal rhythms, patterns and beauty.
In his TED talk, Nature, Beauty and Gratitude, he shared his unique appreciation of the beauty of nature, his time-lapse photography and his wisdom on what really makes people happy.
He had this to say about nature:
It opens our hearts and makes us realise that we are part of nature and that we are not separate from it. When we see ourselves in nature, it also connects us to everyone of us because it is clear that it is all connected and one.
He goes on to say that “nature’s beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude.”
In the video embedded in this post, you can also get a glimpse of the output of Louie Schwartzberg’s project, “Happiness Revealed”. We see something of the appreciation of nature through the eyes of a young girl and those of an elderly man who lives in the mountains. The man’s happiness and wisdom flows from a daily appreciation of the beauty of nature.
Louie Schwartzberg captures the man reflecting on life, nature and happiness against a backdrop of time-lapse photography. The man in the study shares his reflection on life in these words:
You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day, it’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you, it’s a gift. It’s the only gift you have today and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is…if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day…then you will have spent this day very well.
This man’s reflections reminds us that happiness does not lie in our job title, our income level or our possessions but in gratitude for our connection with others, with nature and with what transcends us.
He suggests that we will have spent our unique day very well if:
- we open our eyes to the incredible colours of nature that surround us
- look at the sky and observe the unique cloud formations of the day
- look at the faces of the people we meet and reflect on their story and that of their ancestors
- appreciate the drinkable running water we have access to, a gift that is denied to millions of people.
[Note: The video of Louie Schwartzberg’s talk at TED is less than 10 minutes long and has been viewed more than 1.5 Million times.]
If we open our hearts and minds to what we have (rather than focus on what we have lost), we open our life to creative possibilities.
Creativity and the loss of personal social structures
Eckhart Tolle reminds us of the power of now, of mindfulness and being present in the moment. He also states that the very point at which our personal social structures collapse (e.g. through job loss), we can release our creative spirit and open up the possibility of new endeavours and horizons.
In an interview with Neale Donald Walsch, author of the ground-breaking “Conversations with God”, he pointed out that Walsch wrote the first of this series of books when he was homeless. Walsch has gone on to write 27 books which have sold millions of copies worldwide and has his own TV show. Tolle himself was homeless for three years before he wrote his books on “The Power of Now” and “The New Earth”.
Even Louie Schwartzberg, the award-winning cinematographer mentioned above, commented that his creative endeavours began when he had very little in terms of possessions:
I didn’t have much money but I had time and a sense of wonder. So I started shooting time-lapse photography.
So the starting point is gratitude for what we do have – our connection to people, nature and transcendence – and this gratitude releases our creative ability and our capacity to generate new endeavours with unforeseen possibilities. Even when experiencing loss through downsizing, we can find a new path through our appreciation of our connections.
Whether or not we have people in our social network who have experienced job loss through downsizing, we can all benefit from the insights of Louie Schwartzberg, Nicolas Christakis, Eckhart Tolle and Neale Donald Walsch. By renewing our connections to people and nature, we can attain a new groundedness and open up creative possibilities for the year ahead.