To make the world great, we must start by treating ourselves greatly.
And this isn’t a complex equation. It’s pretty hard for burnout plus running on empty and Scotch tape today to equal a beautiful, generous tomorrow.
One way to think of treating ourselves greatly is this: we give ourselves the endowment and we give the world our interest.
What I mean, here, is that we give ourselves the sleep, the nutrients, the nurturing that brings every bone, tissue, and neuron in us awake and alive. That’s our endowment.
If we treat it right, it yields incredible interest in energy, vitality, largeness of spirit. All of which we can give freely to the world at no cost to ourselves.
And the more we put into the endowment, the more interest we generate.
Now, I think what typically happens is that we give the world our endowment without replenishing it. We say yes to everything, cut back on sleep, ratchet up on caffeine, let others shape our schedule and cross our boundaries. Then we expect ourselves to get by on the rapidly dwindling interest.
But what’s typical is neither the law nor the rule. It’s what’s typical. And there’s no reason to abide by it. Especially if it’s diminishing our capacity to contribute to the world.
The endowment need not be complicated or expensive. For me, seven to eight hours of sleep a night makes up 70% of it. Then it’s a mix of meditation, time away from my phone and with terrific people, walking outside.
For some, it’s painting, prayer, jogging, journaling, reading mysteries, taking lunch outside, being with the dog, rock climbing.
But whatever the different pieces of it, one of our most important and most easily neglected responsibilities is to endow ourselves. With that, we can contribute to the world without taking from ourselves.
So, in many ways, the endowment is nothing more than that which we give ourselves so we can give of ourselves to the world.