"Building and Drawing from Your Well"

Building and Drawing from Your Well: The Impact of Core Convictions and Transcendence on the Wellbeing of Humanitarian Workers

Rebekah Rumschlag '17

Management Consulting and Psychology Majors, CST Minor

Advisor: Professor Todd Whitmore



Humanitarian workers encounter poverty, war, and despair each day. Results of their hard work can be intangible or hard to identify. Yet many of them find deep joy and satisfaction in their occupation. What enables humanitarian workers to flourish in these trying environments? Often times the answer is transcendence, or belief in something greater than oneself – a sense of purpose and mission. This sense of mission is often derived from core convictions, or beliefs an individual holds as the highest truth. Both core convictions and transcendence exist on spectrums. The greatest potential for wellbeing exists when core convictions are firm yet accommodating and experiences of transcendence are of a moderate-intensity. Barriers to transcendent experiences are also considered, as well as the impact of benefit-finding, or reframing experiences in positive ways. Through analyzing interviews with humanitarians, this paper strives to characterize the types of transcendence that support and obstruct wellbeing, as well as identify strategies that promote flourishing. Non-humanitarians can also benefit from this research by applying lessons learned to their own experience and work.