The Word That Stumped Me

The Word That Stumped Me

Although the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle regularly confounds me, it’s not often I back up on a word used in everyday conversation. But as I watched an episode of Bull, featuring Michael Weatherly as Dr. Jason Bull in a drama inspired by Dr. Phil McGraw’s early career as a trial consultant, I joined Bull’s team in bewilderment when he described the kind of jurors he wanted for an upcoming trial.

He wanted jurors with generativity.


Thankfully his team of experts needed a definition, too.

“Generativity,” Bull explained, “is the concern for, and belief in, the future. It’s a commitment to the idea that no matter how bad things may be at any given moment, you can persevere and redeem yourself.”

Prospective jurors were asked questions designed to reveal their outlook on life. Questions like: What would you do if you lost your job today? Would you trade in your life for anyone else’s?

Those with generativity gave answers that displayed a confidence that things were ultimately going to be all right. Their tone and attitude indicated they would not be defined by a given circumstance, but would instead strive to handle it and maybe even leave the world a better place because of it.

One television critic called the show’s generativity reference a “fancy word for optimism.” But with a quick google search, I found that its origins trace back as part of the seventh (Generativity versus Stagnation) of eight stages in Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development where we choose to discover our purpose, make our mark, learn from what we are experiencing, leave the world a better place for future generations, etc.,—or not.

I needed that reminder this week.

My house is misbehaving again, allowing Mother Nature to intrude where she does not belong. Water, that glorious element that has kept my yard a beautiful Seattle green far longer than any other spring or summer I’ve experienced, has found its way into my home in unwanted places.

I’m beyond frustrated. But more than that, I’m weary. I’m tired of learning more than I ever wanted to know about finding leaks.

Water is tricky, the experts keep telling me.

Yep. But even trickier is deciding what other information to believe. And more importantly, deciding who I should trust.

So I needed that unfamiliar word this week. I needed to hit pause on the looping soundtrack of noise and confusion that was cluttering my mind and consider, would Dr. Bull have chosen me for his jury?

Did I have generativity?

The question alone helped me lift my thoughts to take the larger view of the situation, to elevate above the wet towels and conflicting opinions and hidden agendas so that I could rest in the confidence that I will get through this. I will learn from this. I will grow from this. And maybe even help someone else from what I learn.

So stay tuned. Meanwhile, what about you? Do you have generativity? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.

My best – always,

Becky  (Nana B)

P.S. Honored to be featured as a “Recommended Read” this month on Books By Women.

P.P.S. Hurray! We hit 70 amazon reviews this week! Many thanks for your continued encouragement and for sharing your thoughts.

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