Getting hit by lightning, finding the perfect job, having a djinni grant three wishes – these are all lotteries. […] The problem with lottery thinking is that it takes us away from thinking about the chronic stuff instead. The pervasive, consistent challenge that will respond to committed effort.*
Afraid of being alone, we struggle to pay attention to ourselves. And what suffers is our ability to pay attention to each other, we lose confidence in what we have to offer others.**
Before each of us there exists three futures: expected, possible and preferred.
The most developed of these is the expected: because of previously experienced trends, we have the data to extrapolate and put together our plans. The problem is, the world can change around us.
When we popularly talk about dreams we probably positing possible futures: led by events we can imagine happening and telling ourselves stories of what will be if we meet the right person or win the lottery, so we play with “what if”scenarios. The problem is, such events are few and far between and can be malevolent as well as benevolent.
The least explored future is the preferred and is what I’m thinking about when I mention dreams: this future calls for vision, creativity and courage as we both vision-cast from the present into the future and back-cast from the future into the present in order to make it happen.
These three exist together for us, so the future is complex requiring that we build our own capacity for complexity so we might navigate what is thrown up by all three. It’s why Sherry Turkle’s words caught my attention this morning; we’re not paying attention to ourselves in the best ways for developing our complexity.
Ahead of the neuroscientists, George Eliot noticed a critical human characteristic:
[George Eliot] believed that the most essential element of human nature was its malleability, the way each of us can “will ourselves to change.”^
To open our preferred futures, we need to pay attention to ourselves but not be willing to accept the first answer that comes, this in relation to our values, talents and energies.
Our values are our truest goals in life.
Name at least three. Where have they come from? How do they connect with your own experiences in life? How do they join with each other? How do they shape a good world for others?
Our talents are our naturally occurring ways and means of connecting with our world.
Name at least five. Talents are what lie behind our surface actitivities, be they piano-player, boutique owner or writer (so you wouldn’t name these). For each, identify if they help you get things done, build relationships, produce ways of thinking, or influencing others. Then identify examples for each – at least five.
Our energies are physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
We want all of these to be working together in a state of flow. Often we think about what we are doing. Noticing our energy turns this around to notice what our whole life is showing us first and, when we feel the energy, we stop to notice what we’re doing, because we are wanting to make more of these times happen.
There are also de-energising things our lives are trying to show to us. Again, we need to notice this and turn our attention to what we are doing, because we want to stop these things happen or figure out a way of managing them better.
There are four things you can spot for both the positive and negative experiences: what you are doing, why you doing it, who you are doing it with or for, and when you are doing it (as in, beginning or finishing something, or perhaps the time of day).
Now you’re beginning to really pay attention to yourself. Work out ways of practising these things each day for the next year and you will find yourself in quite a different future – one that you want to shape.
These are the things I will be exploring in a special provision of my dreamwhispering work for those who find themselves unemployed as a result of the coronavirus lockdown. Please pass on to those you think may be interested; those interested can message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(*From Seth Godin’s blog: Lottery thinking.)
(**From Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation.)
(^From Jonah Lehrer’s Proust was a Neuroscientist.)