When satisfactions with success and pleasure start to fade, life tends to feel trivial and small. We must then undertake a quest for meaning and value beyond the self-centeredness of the first two stages. To become satisfied now will require a move on to Stage III, where service becomes the goal and is the major life satisfaction.
What happens when we enter Stage III is that one or more communities become important. Communities selected might be the family, the neighborhood, the country and/or the world. Typically in Stage III, we give the community priority over our own self-centered desires. To be responsible and to do our duty become important objectives. Desires for giving and serving the community replace many of our desires for getting personal pleasures and/or success. Adults (if not locked into pleasures or success) will have the easiest time reaching this stage when they parent small children. Doing our duty by our children usually feels good and is satisfying.
My opinion is that Robert E. Lee of USA Civil War fame is an excellent example of someone leading a life primarily in Stage III. Several biographies are available (books and movies) that have shown how important duty and responsibility were to him.
This does not mean that in Stage III people completely stop pursuing pleasure and success. Rather, pleasures and success are parts of their lives that are much less important than giving and serving. When experiencing pleasures or success, Stage III folks are just not as satisfied as they would be with service. For those in Stages III & IV, excitement, fun, childishness and success are no longer important to them.
© 2008 by Thayer White
Finding Your Soul in the Spirituality Maze
|Excerpt from Be Your Own Therapist: "Do you routinely ignore your body and its signals, as you might ignore a carcass alongside the highway? Is your body dull and lifeless, like a carcass? If so, you may be like many psychotherapy clients who have the mistaken impression that just doing verbal psychotherapy will eventually make them happy."|