The Art of Jazz Living: BOTH Unique AND United

Image of woman near the ocean

Are you a team player? Do you have a history of playing on sports teams? I don’t. In 10th grade, I made a sporting attempt and joined the track team. Early in the season, though, shin splints relegated my role to cookie girl. I dutifully brought home-baked, chocolate chip cookies to the track meets, but I doubted my cookies contributed much to the team’s success.

Were you the jock who scored points for the team? Did you play a leading role in the theater production? Sing a solo? My part in choir or theater always seemed small and insignificant enough that the show’s success didn’t depend on me.

I’ve been grappling with the relative importance or lack of importance of my individual contribution and the complexity of being part of a larger collaborative effort. I’m also noticing my inner dialogue is basically ego-driven jibber-jabber.

Since the Wellness Universe Guide to Complete Self-Care: 25 Tools for Goddesses achieved #1 Amazon Best Seller status, I’ve noticed my resistance to claiming that status even though my name is on the cover of the book. Even though I contributed to the book’s success, I resist adding #1 Amazon Best Seller status to my email signature. Why? Feeling undeserving? I didn’t do it myself by myself? Sounds like a two-year-old, doesn’t it?

Do you notice any similar tendency to value your uniqueness over group collaboration? Or are you naturally a team player celebrating the team win? Each member of a World Series championship team gets a championship ring, right?

Both Unique And United

Sharing your voice when it’s your turn to shine and then stepping back to collaborate so other voices shine are two of the principles of jazz music that we can apply to daily living. That’s called the Art of Jazz Living.

In practicing the Art of Jazz Living, we play at living in the BOTH/AND recognizing the value of both unique, individual voices and the united group collaboration.

5 Principles of The Art of Jazz Living

  • Drop into your rhythm
  • Reconnect to your inner well-being
  • Listen for the groove
  • Share your individual voice
  • Step back and collaborate

In our individualistic society, we tend to overvalue our individual, unique voice and undervalue collaboration. In some cultures, however, blending in and not standing out is a highly valued principle.

As I’m reflecting on the Art of Jazz Living, I’m noticing where I’ve followed cultural attitudes and tended to value individual contributions over group collaborations. I’m shaking myself up since that isn’t walking my talk. I choose to embrace the significance of both individual voices and group collaboration.

puzzle with one piece missing
Photo credit Pixabay-Richard Reid

Each of us contributes a piece of the emerging picture. Your piece of the puzzle might be the clue giving meaning to the entire picture.

Without each unique piece of the puzzle, the picture is incomplete. When the pieces of the puzzle come together, the picture is whole and new potentials emerge that weren’t previously possible.

puzzle with the word peace
Photo Credit: Pixabay – Gerd Altmann

Will your piece make a significant contribution? You won’t know until you sing your note, make someone’s day brighter with your smile, go the extra mile for a friend, or speak your truth with spiritual authority.

Then again, you may never know the long-term significance of the child’s joy when they opened the gift you donated to Toys for Tots; the blessing felt by the person who found the $20 bill you tucked into the pocket of a donated coat; or the gratitude of the forgotten shut-in who received your holiday card.

What can you contribute this new year that both expand your individual voice and blesses someone else’s contribution to the whole?

Here is a guided meditation that I hope blesses your day to Be the Best Version of You!

Check-in with my Wellness Universe profile for updates on the upcoming Art of Jazz Living course and Jazz Living practice circles of wise women changemakers.

Connect with Leah Skurdal on The Wellness Universe and walk away feeling better!

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