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Flourishing through Suffering: The Myth of the Archetypal Biography

How to find flourishing through suffering.

Most of the “life stories” we encounter through fiction, movies, and summary biographies (i.e. wikipedia) follow narrative development that isn’t really accurate. In real life, setbacks and suffering are common- and part of growth.

Recently, I got to hear my friend Kate Rae Davis present at Symposia, a series of TED Talk style presentations by fellow alumni of The Seattle Seattle School of Theology & Psychology. Kate’s research, as director of The Resilient Leaders Project, is helping find ways to teach and support resiliency in order to help leaders cope with setbacks and the threat of burnout.

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Image description for screen readers:

The image is a hand drawn sketch note with the title: “Flourishing through suffering.”

There are three graphs drawn. 

The first graph shows a line that peaks at a point in the middle. Underneath is written, “Typical narrative: rise  and fall of tension.”

The second graph shows a line continuing upward. Underneath is written, “Typical biography.”

The third graph shows a line continuing upward that has downward dips along the line. Underneath is written, “Actual life: growth and setbacks.”

An arm is drawn with the bicep muscle protruding as it flexes. The text around it says, “Muscles grow through micro tears. Rest and nourishment are the difference between muscle growth and injury.”

Text written next to this drawing says, “Rest and nourishment for people: 

  1. People – support and community.
  2. Practices – sleep, nutrition, health-supportive behaviors.
  3. Purpose – small, manageable goals; a guiding mission.”

A blue box is drawn next to this that reads, “Tragic Optimism.”

Below is written, “is the hope for a current terrible experience to leave us better people. It’s expecting the (down arrow) and trusting the (up arrow) will come and carry us forward.”

Notes from a talk by @kateraed @ @theseattleschool

Visually translated by @lindsaybraman

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