The Gross National Happiness Lab (GNH Lab) was birthed in Bhutan in January 2013, the result of this country’s decision not to measure its wealth only in terms of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
I like this a lot. Maybe we can say, Humans are in the business of Gross interNational Happiness. We’ve been exploring the same things as Bhutan these last couple of weeks.
What follows is some behind-the-post information; I appreciate keeping posts short only offers glimpses of the sources, ideas, and experiences which lie behind them. (Apologies for it being a little longer than usual.)
Firstly, some words from the prime minister of Bhutan, Lyonchen Jigme Y. Thinley, an example of leading from the emerging future:
We know that true abiding happiness cannot exist
while others suffer, and comes only from serving
others, living in harmony with nature, and realising
our innate wisdom and the true and brilliant nature
of our own mind.
Here are some of the different themes, ideas, and experiences I’ve been overlaying:
Theory U (the “U” pictures a deepening and emerging experience), from Otto Scharmer, describes a journey from a WYSIATI (What You See Is All There Is) view of the world, people, and self, to which sees, understands, and experiences their interconnectedness. Focusing on new kinds of health provision, business, finance, and farming, Scharmer explores the ways of change both individuals, societies, and organisations can experience. The journey takes us across several borders, or thresholds: opening our minds, opening our hearts, and opening our wills.
The reason Theory U caught my attention is because of Erwin McManus‘s description of three Human quests, employing words we often use about Humans, but possibly don’t experience the power of. The quest take us from pride to courage, from greed to generosity, and, from foolishness to wisdom. There are again thresholds to cross. The first can be seen as opening our minds (to use Scharmer’s phrase) via steps of humility, gratitude, and faithfulness (e.g., humility here is about accurately recognising our talents and abilities; gratitude about taking stock of all we have; faithfulness about creating daily habits of reflecting on and actioning these things). The next threshold is about opening our hearts (e.g., we own the possibility of there being more to us than meets the eye – more than WYSIATI, we have more than we think in way of resources, and our habits are opening up possibilities we didn’t think possible), moving us to experience integrity, wholeness, and perseverance. The final threshold is an opening of the will (e.g., we’re prepared to allow our dreams to grow larger and begin trying out the things we’ve been imagining), and we begin living with courage, generosity, and wisdom (wisdom being more about how we act than what we know).
Edward Deci‘s work on supported autonomy is hugely important when it comes to encouraging people in what they are discovering about themselves. Deci discovered, when people sense others are trying to enforce beliefs and behaviours on them, they’ll conform (and imagination and creativity will seep from their lives), or they’ll resist and sabotage (resulting in destructive rather than constructive consequences). Both McManus and Scharmer recognise a future/emerging Self (as a person who is both autonomous and connected) who needs to be encouraged and supported. What others think and do can often drown out the whispers people need to hear from their own lives.
These kinds of experience for me include a small circle of people I’m a part of who are seeking to turn our dreams for a city that listens into some form of reality. We’re increasingly realising our preparatory conversations are resonating with Theory U, and the process we are pursuing makes space and time for deeply listening to one another, recognising and appreciating what each brings, and seeking to bring all of this together in an interconnected way.
There’s also my own work of dreamwhispering (think coaching and mentoring and more), with people who’re identifying and developing their Strengths towards giving expression to their dreams. I’m always trying out these thoughts and ideas and see the difference they make in real lives – beginning with my own. In my thinking I carry my own description of being Human: to be Human is to live with creativity, enjoyment, and generosity.
Thanks for getting this far.