Since I was a child, I’ve picked up rocks and seashells and pieces of wood that I’ve liked and took them home. I’ve used these things to remember the wonder and the wideness of the world as I live in it. The most recent stones I’ve gathered are from the Negev Desert near a community settlement in the far south of Israel. It was an alone place, and spending days in the harshness of natural forces in its valleys and unprotected plains brought me a surprising sense of solace.
Like so many things in life, spirituality is subjective. Just as certain beliefs shape our principles and opinions, spirituality is a personal construct we create based on what makes us feel a deep sense of being that is physically and emotionally felt. So we make choices about what helps us reach this deeper state—be it an appreciation of oneself or another, a practice we do, or just a simple awareness of what’s happening in the now, while envisioning what lies ahead. My time in the desert forced me to slow down. Its solitude invited me to reflect on who I am, where I’ve been and the people and experiences in my life that were precious and have brought me joy.
Lineage, like the ancient, untouched desert, is about the past. Historical, familial and spiritual lineages carried forward from the past can often bring nourishment and inspiration to future generations. But the deeper meaning of these lines include careful attention to the roots of a tradition—sharing the personal stories through time, honoring what has been handed down and respecting what is passed forward.
Once both my parents were gone, it took me a while to accept the legacy they left me. How could I unapologetically re-shape the many facets of what they created and form them into my own?
Throughout their lives my parents developed their own personal form of philanthropy that embraced collaboration. They brought people and organizations together, often from different parts of the world, and gave them opportunities to thrive and uncover breakthroughs over time—in the arts, medicine, culture and diplomacy. Recently, my parents’ remarkable journey has inspired me to honor their legacy and carry their work forward. I’ve inaugurated a new award as a joint initiative of the Global Wellness Summit that celebrates collaboration in the “science of wellness.” I was honored to present the award at this year’s Summit in Tel Aviv in the hope of encouraging more research on human flourishing and laying a foundation for generations to come.
On another stage, I presented new strategies to the members of Transforming Age, an organization of senior living healthcare professionals from around the US. As a core value of their business, Transforming Age is focused on wellness and building a culture of excellence for the aging community. Current science shows that while aging and wellness go hand in hand, one of the easiest ways to improve health and wellbeing, not just for the aging but all of us, is through forging stronger and more active social connections. I found the relationship between social connection and wellness so compelling that I made it the topic of my latest piece in Rolling Stone. Read more on both topics below.
I hope my thoughts on spirituality, lineage and connection will bring you light and the wellbeing it gives us as we negotiate December—a double entendre of a month for its lack of outer light—but a bounty of joyous inner light and celebratory occasions.
Happy holidays to all!