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Flourish

On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam says that we know we're all busy, very busy, but are we doing what it take to flourish?

What does it take for a human to flourish? Such a simple question to understand, but to answer, not so easy.

Listening to a podcast last weekend, this question arose between the host and his guest. The guest pointed out that, in his opinion, everything being promoted as valuable in our Western society today is detrimental to human flourishing. What is being promoted, he said, actually leads to loneliness, and he might be right.

So, what is being promoted out there? One immediately must turn to technology and, specifically, social media. Our consumption of social media is largely done alone. We may share things we like, but we consume 99% of our social media alone.

The accumulation and broadcasting of wealth is certainly being promoted on social media in the types of cars next to us on the road right now. Through our posts about the clothes, the toys, the trips we take. It all serves to boost and promote our ego and egos, unchecked, always elevate and separate - always. Egos say, “I’m better, I’m different. I’m above you. I’m away from you.” More loneliness. I could go on.

So, if we want to flourish, what exactly should we want? If we want our children to flourish, what should we want for them? Unfortunately, most of us don’t know. We’re conditioned to say friends, health, meaningful and purposeful activities each day. It all sounds good. So, look at you. Look at me. What are we doing to achieve this? What of our behaviors illustrate that we’re flourishing? For the vast majority of us, there’s not a lot to point to.

And we have the ability to heavily influence our kids. We want our kids to flourish, so we give them cell phones. We solve their problems. We let them stay home from school. Kids today spend less time interacting with each other. Increases in anxiety and loneliness. We want them to flourish, but we don’t equip them or teach them how. Adults aren’t much different. We’re busy, though, so very busy. Flourishing? No. Busy? Yes, very busy.

A small business colleague asked a simple but heretical question last night: “What’s wrong with not wanting more? What’s wrong with not wanting private equity to swoop in and buy me out because I like what I do, and I don’t want to stop? What’s wrong with not wanting a boat, a plane, a second house or whatever? What’s wrong with liking where I am, and why do I feel wrong for asking this?”

There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s counter to our culture of more and more and busier and busier.

Everything needed for each of us to flourish is within our reach. Education, art, friends, hobbies, community. Do you and I have what it takes to leave the mess we’ve created so that we can flourish? I’m Cam Marston, and I’m just trying to Keep it Real.

Cam Marston is the Keepin' It Real host for Alabama Public Radio.