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  • Writer's pictureTroy Piwowarski

The Seismic Shift Toward Meaning-Filled Living

Troy Piwowarski, PsyD, CGP

Right now, we are in the midst of a seismic shift in how we're relating to work. One of the hidden gifts of the pandemic is that it allowed us a chance to see how much we prioritize work over living our lives.

We've begun to look up from the desk to ask "Why am I putting in these kind of hours? Where does it all lead to?" Chronic burnout, disconnection from self and others, and a deepening sense of the void are common answers for many of the clients we work with. Surprisingly, it turns out THERE'S MORE TO LIFE THAN WORK!

As people wake up from the busy trap, we often need to relearn how to connect, how to play, and where to look for what's actually meaningful and fulfilling. It's as though our other muscles have atrophied from neglect while we were busy building up the "working hard" muscle.


Learning these skills of connection with self and others can be extremely frustrating and humbling. You might ask yourself, "Why is this so challenging? I used to connect so easily with others back in college!" Upon closer examination, we can see that making and maintaining connections looks different at various life stages. Whereas it was easy to feel connected in high school and college years (where school auto-curates people your own age into close proximity to you), adulthood connections require more effort, but also more skill.

Here's where joining a group gives you a leg up. If what you're looking for is com

radery around a shared activity, joining a baseball league, a cycling club, or a house concert meetup group in your community might be your next step. If what you're missing is an element of playfulness in your life, then joining an improv class, an esctatic dance group, or a play group might be your thing.

Or perhaps the void you're most aware of is a void of meaning and purpose. Here, I would suggest two options: 1) joining a cause, such as environmental advocacy or racial justice, or 2) join a support or process group. The advantage of group work is that it covers all the categories: we have fun, we learn how to connect and go deep (including all the nuances of connecting in adulthood), and we delve into the heart of what makes life meaningful.


Our last annual retreat's theme was Play. Throughout the 3 day weekend, we gave guys time to connect socially, physically, playfully, thoughtfully, emotionally, and spiritually. They had opportunities to be embodied through contact improv, Kundalini yoga, sacred wrestling, exercise, cold plunge, and tug-o-war. They tapped into their creativity and spontanaety through improv, sand tray, storytelling, and art-making.

And throughout all of it, we processed what each of these activities stirred up for people, which led to vulnerable shares, working through healthy anger and aggression, tears, joy, laughter, grief, and a whole lot of warmth and comradery. By the end of the weekend, 24 people felt the power of community that is possible when we gather in groups.

I believe this is what's missing for so many people who have singularly focused on being good workers--we miss out on the healing, vitality, and empowerment that's possible in intentional group spaces.

I hope you take some time this week, this month, this year for whatever kind of intentional space your soul is craving.

If group is what calls to you, let us know. Group is what we do, so we'd love to talk to you!

Visit our Contact Us page to find out more about Support and Process Groups.


Here are some offerings coming up at IRL Groups:

3 SPACES open in an In-Person Men's Support Group in Berkeley starting in late June 2023. This group meets 5:30-7:00pm every week for 16 weeks.

2 SPACES open in a Hybrid (3x/month online, 1x/month in-person) Men's Process Group starting in August 2023. This group meets 5:15-6:45pm every week ongoing.

2 SPACES open in Online-Only East Asian Men's Group (ongoing). This group meets 5:15pm-6:45pm on Wednesdays.

4 SPACES open in Online-Only Process Group (ongoing). This group meets 2:30pm-4:00pm on Thursdays.

Visit our Contact Us page to find out more about group openings and which group is right for you.

Here are some offerings if you're interested in some group play:

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