Find your spot on the Medicine Wheel

At some point or another, most of us have longed for circumstances other than our own. Whether we admire someone’s wealth, status, education or relationship, the feeling of desire is the same.

But here’s the crazy thing – we all have something valuable that no one else does. We can each offer something to the people in our lives and to the world that no other individual can.

Within Native North American cultures, there is a concept known as the Medicine Wheel. The Medicine Wheel represents the circle of life and also the connectedness of everything that lives. The Wheel has a vertical line and a horizontal line through it to represent the four cardinal directions: north, south, east and west.

The vertical line extends beyond the circle, representing above or the sky, and below or the ground. Lastly, from the wheel hang four or seven feathers, which represent the future generations that are to come.

The Medicine Wheel plays a significant role in Native American spirituality, healing and teaching. Individuals are meant to find their place within the circle, which represents the community, and to contribute their skills to help make the whole. As individuals, we each have something absolutely unique that we can contribute and in doing so, we will lead more contented lives and help our community at large.

This concept is very inspirational because of its simplicity and beauty. It encourages communalism and the empowerment of the community to make a wholesome experience for everyone.

Unfortunately, the idea that the talents of others are a cause of envy is rampant in mainstream society. Each person has a gift, and once you find your gift, you will find yourself to be much happier.

National Public Radio published an article titled, “Facebook Makes Us Sadder and Less Satisfied, Study Finds,” about research recently conducted at the University of Michigan. While the authors did not discuss why Facebook use led to decline in overall life satisfaction, NPR quoted research coauthor John Jonides.

“When you’re on a site like Facebook, you get lots of posts about what people are doing,” Jonides said. “That sets up social comparison – you maybe feel your life is not as full and rich as those people you see on Facebook.”

To an extent, the comparisons are apt. I don’t have an Audi, and I won’t anytime in the foreseeable future. As much as I’d love to go to Japan or Turkey, it’s not happening this winter break. And jealous as I might be of my musically talented friends, I will never be able to play a string instrument.

However, life is respective.

Butterflies have a life span of only a few weeks, mice live about a year, and cats live over a decade. Every species lives their lifespan to the fullest, no matter how short that lifespan may be.

Humans, in addition to living for several decades, also have the amazing ability of cognitive thought and free will. Because of this, our potential for a full life is so much more than a butterfly, a mouse or a cat.

No matter your skill set, in anything from debate to cooking, you have something that no one else does, because your skill is uniquely tied to you. By discovering your talent and honing it, you will learn about yourself, others and the world, and find your place within the Medicine Wheel.


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