To be full and complete, life must include concerns for oneself, humanity, and the spiritual. This was from a speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at New Covenant Baptists Church, Chicago, Illinois on April 9, 1967. King preached about “the three dimensions of a complete life.” He referred to these dimensions as the Length, Breadth, and Height of a Life. They represented an inward concern for one’s own personal welfare, ends and ambitions, an outward concern for others, and an upward reach toward God.
King’s framework for the three dimensions of a complete life is like the framework for a triple bottom line business, with Length, Breadth, and Height replaced by Profit, People, and Planet.
The Concerns for Oneself
When travelling with a plane, before the plan takes off there is a safety demonstration and part of it reads:
Oxygen and the air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.
You need to be secured first before you can assist those that needs assistance. When you give without replenishing yourself, at a point you will become resentful towards the people you give because with time you will begin to feel they are taking you for granted. The problem is not with them, but you. You should have your mask on before you assist. If you are not able to assist, you let them know. Stop being nice to your own detriment.
You need to invest and develop yourself first. Personal development is a lifelong process. It is a way for people to assess their skills and qualities, consider their aims in life and set goals to realise and maximise their potential. Personal development begins with self-awareness. You get to know who you really are; your values, beliefs and the purpose you wish to pursue. True fulfilment can never come from chasing other people’s dreams. If you want to achieve lasting happiness, you need to design your life based on who you are. Then you can chase your own goals and objectives.
When you give enough to yourself, you have enough to share with others. Self-Development or personal development is the result of taking steps to improve yourself. There is no single area of focus. In fact, the process of personal self-development is very personal. You must evaluate yourself, either with or without the help of a professional, and then use that evaluation to decide where you need to make improvements.
Whatever job you are doing, do it with love. Give it your very best. Be optimistic and positive. Create a perception that enables you to see things in a positive way. Don’t limit yourself for any reason. Live your life with fun and pleasure. Your life will be more fun to you and others if you try to worry less, listen more, and pause and repeat what the person speaking with you has just said. Don’t be a boring companion. Stop being in charge all the time. Learn to be humble. Be attractive and attract good things. Create a lovely, aromatic environment. Make it easy for others wanting to be in your presence. Refuse to give up no matter the circumstances.
Always set aside time to improve yourself first, then it will be easier to help anyone that needs assistance from you.
What is valued by self is extended to demonstrate a relationship with and necessity for, value and meaning in community, and humanity. This is the length. You need to accept yourself, develop yourself because you are a tool. Once you can achieve this, you need to know what you have been called to do.
The Concerns for Humanity
The breadth is the outward concern for the welfare of others. Most often to assist others, you must put yourself at risk.
The destiny of the nations that are the War Powers is tied up with the destiny of certain countries in the world. So long as these special countries are insecure, America and the United Kingdom can never be totally secure. Therefore, they get involved in their foreign policy to fight wars and assist troubling nations sometimes in ways we think they shouldn’t get involved. All life is interrelated. So, no nation or individual is independent. We are interdependent. We are involved in a single process. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.
People who care for others’ well-being through acts of altruism, volunteering, or formation of communal relationships seem to be happier and less depressed. This seems to be especially true in older individuals. Most people who care for others in a selfless manner do so because of a genuine desire to help and improve the world around them. Nonetheless, modern psychological research has shown that caring has benefits for all involved; people who volunteer or care for others on a consistent basis tend to have better psychological well-being, including fewer depressive symptoms and higher life-satisfaction. The closest thing to being cared for is to care for someone else.
Whatever you do, you need to consider others. Life is not just about you. If you are alone in the world, it will be lonely and there will be no reason why you want to remain. Life is beautiful because of everything and everyone. The people you meet makes life beautiful. You need to have compassion to assist and help people. Compassion is also a sustained and practical determination to do whatever is possible and necessary to help alleviate the suffering of others.
The Concerns for the Spiritual
The third dimension is the height. Now if life is to be complete, you must move beyond yourself interest. You must move beyond humanity and reach up, way up for the God of the universe, whose purpose does not change. You know, a lot of people master the length of life, and they master the breadth of life, but they stop right there. You can never see the mind of the architect who drew the blueprint. You can never see the love and the faith and the hope of the individuals who made it so. Engaging the height of life requires leaning forward into the heart of uncertainties regarding the existence of God.
Bringing It All Together:
Love yourself: Length of Life.
Love your neighbour as you love yourself: Breadth of Life
Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength: Height of Life.
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. Wisdom, Compassion, and Courage are the three Universally recognised moral qualities. Compassion is the ability to see.