The Sum of Somes
“The Sum of Somes”
There is an old saying: “The three things a person needs to be content are Someone to Love, Something to Do, and Something to Hope For.”
In our therapy and coaching practice, we find ourselves coming back to these three essentials many times a day. Whether we are working with a marriage in crisis, someone struggling with addiction, anxiety, or depression, or someone who just needs some reassurance that they aren’t “crazy” to feel the way they feel, these three needs cry out to be met.
First, we need someone to whom we can give love—and hopefully have it reciprocated. But, as St. Paul said, it is more blessed to give than to receive. We all need to feel like we make a difference in someone’s life, that our love matters in the universe. That is our first and greatest need.
We also need something to do that gives our life purpose. We all want to look at our lives and see that we left something behind, something meaningful and enduring. Someone once wryly observed that we can all measure our impact on the world but pulling our hand out of a bucket of water. The water closes in and it is as if our hand was never there. But that is not so. In Jerusalem, the Memorial to the Holocaust is called Yad Vashem, which is Hebrew for “A Hand and a Name.” It is a powerful reminder that every life matters and every life is unique.
Finally, we all need something to hope for—or for you grammar geeks, “something for which to hope.” Science tell us that we are the only animals who can anticipate the future. That is both blessing and a curse. We can project ourselves into a time and place that has not yet happened. Such an ability can cause us to rejoice (Thomas Aquinas said “Anticipation is the greater joy.”) or to worry. The trick is to live in hope. And it is a little tricky because for hope to be real, it has to be realistic, otherwise it is nothing more than fantasy. We all know people who are perpetual “Pollyannas,” refusing to face hard realities. Yet, with the help of a trained and compassionate guide, a real and realistic hope can always be found.
Researcher Brene Brown says for Hope to be real, it needs three things: Goal, Pathway, and Agency. In other words, Hope needs to see a preferred future, a credible road to that future, and a belief that our choices can make a genuine difference in realizing that preferred future.
So, to misquote St. Paul, these three remain: “Someone to Love, Something to Do, and Something to Hope For”—The Sum of Somes.