Chasing the Intangible: Soulfulness

· 1 min read

Recently I've started seeing all life experiences as falling into one of two categories. Some – people, buildings, circumstances, interactions, jobs – leave me warm, inspired, and hopeful. Other situations leave me cold, empty, and depressed. For lack of a better word, I will call the first category – soulful and the other – empty. I often can't tell if an experience will fall into one category or the other.

Advertisers don't sell products or services. All ads appeal to our desire to have soulful experiences. Whether it's a new car, fine dining, a sophisticated spiritual event, or fashionable branded clothing, each is advertised with the promise of making you feel good. In my life, however, these often left me feeling empty. I would go as far as to say that while quality can be purchased, soulfulness cannot be. It's the difference between a client and a friend, an employee and a business partner, a restaurant meal and a homemade dinner.

Behind every experience, there's a person. The one who cooked the food you are eating, or the one who designed and built the house you live in. I believe the person's essence and intentions are imprinted in everything the person creates. This is why what should be oh-so-soulful on the surface, e.g., "a non-profit for a social cause," can quickly turn into a shit show when people behind the organization start doing the right thing for the wrong reason. On the other hand, a simple grocery store can feel like home when owners put their life into it.

There's a word in the Russian language –"великодушный" – that can be best translated as generous or magnanimous. Like its Latin counterpart, the word has two roots: "great" and "soul" — one with a great soul. Conversely, the word "малодушный" can be translated as cowardly or faint-hearted. It, too, consists of two parts: "little" and "soul"— one with a little soul. Words' etymology often reflects deeper truths, which makes me wonder: What can I do to cultivate my soulfulness?