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What is a Good Life? #36
Engaging With Society with Dr. Susie Orbach
On the 36th episode of the What is a Good Life? podcast, I'm delighted to be joined by Dr. Susie Orbach.
Susie is an acclaimed psychoanalyst, psychotherapist, prolific writer, best-selling author, and social critic. She is also the co-founder of The Women’s Therapy Centre in London and The Women’s Therapy Center Institute in New York City.
In this episode, Susie discusses engaging with and participating in society, emphasising the importance of contributing to common missions and the sense of connection and meaning it brings. We also discuss the factors contributing to the decline of these values, the shift towards competition rather than collaboration, the influence of the era she grew up in on her own social activism, as well as the importance of maintaining curiosity in relationships and life.
If you are experiencing a sense of disconnection in life, with society and the world around you, or if you are feeling a little isolated in your own world, this episode will provide you with plenty to contemplate regarding the potential outcomes of shifting your focus and perspectives in life to include the collective as well as the individual.
The weekly clip from the podcast (3 mins), my weekly reflection (2 mins), the full podcast (29 mins), and the weekly questions all follow below.
1. Weekly Clip from the Podcast
2. My weekly reflection
Often, when we think about engaging or participating in society, we envision tackling enormous issues, and this can lead to feeling overwhelmed by the scale of the task, often resulting in us doing nothing at all. This is quite unfortunate because a vast space exists between solving the world's most significant problems and doing nothing at all.
This may sound insignificant, but it has made a significant difference in my life. After spending a year in the countryside of Peru, and upon my arrival in Berlin, I frequently lamented to my wife how much I missed the way strangers would always greet you when walking to the local town, even if it was just a simple greeting with the stage of the day.
After lamenting this for a while, I began sporadically but very frequently saying hello/hallo or good morning/Guten Morgen to a large number of people while out and about in my neighbourhood. Originally, I experienced many moments of tumbleweed and embarrassed looks from my German wife. However, over time, things began to change. People started responding to me; some would even stop for chats, and a few even became friends. Meanwhile, others who neither knew my name nor had ever talked to me would heartily wave at me from across the street.
You might think this simply sounds like a cute or cheesy habit to develop, but I assure you, few things in my life make me feel as good as walking through my neighbourhood and experiencing a strong sense of connection.
When we recently had our first child, I was amazed at how many people I didn't even know very well would offer to bring food over, inquire about any specific clothing sizes we needed, offer to walk our dog, or take care of our dog while we were in the hospital. Several people even bought me coffee to congratulate me whenever I made an appearance in the local cafe, and many have asked about the baby's and mother's health or my early experiences of fatherhood when I’m out walking the dog.
Years from now, when I fondly look back on the first month of my child's life, I know that regardless of where I am in the world, the contact, support, and engagement from the people in my neighbourhood will bring a bright, beaming smile to my face.
From all the interviews I have conducted, it is clear that the level of human connection we experience in life profoundly affects how we perceive our lives. The more we engage in our societies, whether with something substantial or small, the more people will remind you that, despite our obvious and many flaws, we are also itching to help and support one another, or for any excuse to share the good within us. Knowing and experiencing this, for me, significantly contributes to a good life.
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3. Full Episode - Engaging With Society with Dr. Susie Orbach - What is a Good Life? #36
4. This week’s Questions
What societal issue do you feel emotionally connected to that you do not act or contribute towards?
How connected do you feel to your immediate surrounding society? Are you satisfied with this level of connection?
I am a Coach based in Berlin, via Dublin, Ireland. I left behind a 15-year career in Capital Markets after I became extremely curious around answering some of the bigger questions in life. I started this project in 2021, for which I’ve now interviewed over 150 people, to provide people with the space to reflect on their own lives and to create content that would spark people’s own inquiry into this question. I am also trying to share more genuine expressions of the human experience, beyond the facades we typically project.