Thanks to my brother for giving me the new book about Mr. Rogers coupled with a timely visit from our dear friends David and Terri, I have learned a new word and concept that seems perfect for the season and as a volition for the New Year: Generativity.
Generativity” is a term coined by the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson in 1950 to denote “a concern for middle-aged people establishing and guiding the next generation.” It can be expressed in literally hundreds of ways, from volunteering, mentoring, from writing a family history to restoring land. You try to “make a difference” with your life, to “give back,” to “take care” of your community and your planet.
Generativity refers to “making your mark” on the world by caring for others as well as creating and accomplishing things that make the world a better place. Conversely, if one is not focused on living a “re-generative” life, we can become/remain Stagnant. Stagnation refers to the failure to find a way to contribute, being stuck in a point of life lacking purpose. These individuals may feel disconnected or un-involved with their community and with society as a whole. Think: Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation from the ultimate stagnate life to one of pure giving and joy.
Assisting the natural world can bring us the deepest fulfillment in ensuring a legacy by making our ecological home sustainable and life-giving. Planting trees alone will ensure that future generations receive the shade from our work. While Messrs. Rogers and Erikson generativity writings focused on assisting children, guiding youth to the outdoors serves two noble purposes, and bring the greatest satisfaction of all ~