Did you ever notice that when you tell someone who’s feeling down and out to go to a movie or do something he likes it doesn’t always work?
Sometimes the reason can be that he’s not happy with his job or the people he’s with. If someone doesn’t feel he’s doing something useful in the world, doing what makes him feel good can’t make up for that. He’ll still feel useless and undeserving. The very infirm, as long as they have a healthy spirit, don’t want to only be on the receiving end but look for ways to help others.
And even a satisfying job won’t be meaningful if we’re ignoring our basic needs and depleting our energy.
No matter how much we may try to compensate for a deficiency in one value by overcompensating on the other, that deficiency will still be felt.
What in essence are experiential and creative values about? What do they do for us?
Experiential values, or the ways we receive from the world are the ways we experience pleasure. Nourishing food, a refreshing hike in nature, soothing music and good friends are just a few of the ways we enjoy life.
All of these are ways of taking care of ourselves. And when we feel taken care of we feel worthy and cherished. In a word, we feel loved.
Creative values, or the ways we give to the world are the ways we give of our unique gifts and in this way feel part of the world we’re living in. We belong; we have existence. We’re needed. In a word, we realize our capacity to love.
The balance between experiential and creative meaning is a delicate one. It isn’t measured by quantity but by what is appropriate to the circumstance.
The key is finding meaning, whatever the right meaning may be right now.
The balance is in having confidence that we’re in the right place and in knowing that if it’s appropriate then it’s meaningful. If it’s appropriate for us to receive then we can receive in a way that honors the fullness of the gift. If it’s appropriate to be giving then that will be meaningful and receiving will not.
There are times in life when we need to do more giving and other times more receiving and there’s nothing wrong with that. Imbalanced situations call for what may seem to be an imbalance in value focus but they actually get the balance back.