The true dilemma (fixing ourselves)

It is my firm belief that the best way to fix the world – a handyman’s dream if ever there was one – is to fix yourself. […] Anything else is presumptuous. Anything else risks harm, stemming from your ignorance and lack of skill.*
(Jordan Peterson)

But complexity consists of integration as well as differentiation. The task of the next decades and centuries is to realise this underdeveloped component of the mind. Just as we have learned to separate ourselves from each other and the environment, we now need to learn how to reunite ourselves with other entities around us without losing our hard-won individuality.**
(Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)

Bernadette Jiwa asks three big questions of those developing their own businesses, though, the questions feel important for everyone:

What do you think is missing in the world?
What kind of work will you do to fix it?
How will you find the courage to stand out when the world is screaming at you to fit in?^

Our true dilemma lies in responding to the third question.

We will soon identify something that is needed or could be better in the world, we even have the abilities to bring this into being, but finding the courage to begin, to act is more difficult.

To identify what Martin Buber names our “self-sense,”^^ we must detach ourselves from others and from the world in order to move into our independence. We separate to know ourselves but must then reunite ourselves if we are to make our stronger contribution.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi sees this reuniting as our work into the future. We understand how we can we independent have to become explorers of a greater interdependence:

Recognising the limitations of human will, accepting a cooperative rather than a ruling role in the universe, we should feel the relief of the exile returning home. The problem of meaning will then be resolved as the individual’s purpose merges with the universal flow.**

Here are echoes of Frederick Buechners’s declaration that meaning is found where our deepest joy meets the world’s greatest need. Joseph Campbell named two critical myths: the personal myth which contains our “bliss,” our purpose, and the social myth which understands how we bring this into integration with others.

Each day, we can practice these: separate to know who we are and what we bring, reunite and bring our strongest self to serve others and our world.

(*From Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life.)
(**From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.)
(^From Bernadette Jiwa’s The Story of Telling Monthly Update for August.)
(^^See Martin Buber’s I and Thou.)


More than activity and reflection

Activity and reflection should ideally complement and support each other. Action is blind, reflection impotent.*
(Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)

But being creative is never an end; it is a means to something else.**
(Austin Kleon)

When activity and reflection are brought together there is the possibility of change.

A change of mind.

A change of heart,

A change of direction.

We can change.

Others can change.

Cultures can change.

The world can change.

Even our god can change.

The real product of today is not the activity or the reflection alone, but the change that can take place.

Even transformation.

(*From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.)
(**From Austin Kleon’s Keep Going.)

Heart’s desire

It’s as true today as it ever was: He who seeks beauty will find it.*
Bill Cunningham)

If we allow ourselves to see, we will more readily feel, and if we open to the river of compassionate feeling, we will more likely act. But the call to action is the sticking point.**
(Philip Newell)

Just before you think that really is your heart’s desire, pause a moment before acting upon it.

Is there more to see, to know, to think about, to feed your feeling and grow your heart, and the effect it will have on others.

If it’s a worthy desire, continue, and bring something beautiful into being.

(*Bill Cunningham, quote in Austin Kleon’s Keep Going.)
(**From Philip Newell’s The Rebirthing of God.)

It’s possible

we must face the fact that we have a responsibility to own what’s possible. Opportunity abounds. And that’s both a scary and empowering thought*
(Bernadette Jiwa)

Probability sounds good on the face of it. You know where you stand with probability and it will be the same tomorrow.

Probability is fine until it doesn’t work any more.

Obversely, possibility sounds much less likely. Yet every probability began life as a possibility. There is nothing that exists that has has always been this way.

We are children of possibility.

Especially when we see the possibility of someone or something being more human, more caring, more compassionate, more beautiful, more helpful … and we take responsibility for it – because now we can.

And humility is the best place to grow possibility: knowing who we are and what it is we can contribute.

(*From Bernadette Jiwa’s blog: The Bounds of Possibility.)

Ready for a change?

You can’t make people change. But you can create an environment where they choose to.*
(Seth Godin)

A world that works for everyone does not exist except in the imagination. So we must feed the imagination.**
(Alex McManus)

When we recognise the world is not what it ought to be, the person who is strong is the person able to change themselves.

This is even more important when we see how we’re all being changed all the time by external forces.

Change from within is the best change.

(*From Seth Godin’s blog: Leadership.)
(**From Alex McManus’ Makers of Fire – eBook version.)

What the street can’t hear (and are you in the street?)

When we look at the world, we perceive one what is enough for our plans and actions to work and for us to get by. What we inhabit, then, is this “enough.”*
(Jordan Peterson)

If you’re not transforming your past, present, and future, then you aren’t fully experiencing the benefits of gratitude.**
(Ben Hardy)

There’s certainly a lot more to see than we’re seeing.

We can end up only seeing what we need to see in order to make sense of and reinforce our worlds, perhaps a lack of curiosity, perhaps to provide a semblance of control, perhaps even to hold back the chaos we fear will overwhelm if we open up our attention to what we do not know.

With this there can also come a fixed mindset, but what about when chaos finds a way in? And chaos always finds a way in.

Only paying attention to the things we need to and nothing else includes focusing on the things we don’t have. Ben Hardy uses the term “living in the gap.” There’s a positive-fixed mindset when people can feel they’re just better or more special than everyone else, but there’s also a negative-fixed mindset:

Living in the gap forces your brain to think that things cannot change. It’s how you develop a negatively fixed mindset.**

The other kind of mindset, Carol Dweck reminds us,^ is a growth mindset, gratitude being one of the things to help grow this:in relation to the past, because we have come a long way and have learned many things; for the present, because we have capacity to be and to change things; for the future, because we can shape the future we want to live.

Hardy recommends making time at the beginning of the day to be grateful – making time to stop and look and listen, before we rush into the street.

Nassim Taleb describes those who are wise:

In their intense meditation the hidden sound of things approaching reaches them and they listen reverently while in the street outside the people hear nothing at all.^^

(*From Jordan Peterson’s 12 Riles for Life – my main read for August.)
(**From gapingvoid’s blog: We all know gratitude is the mother of all virtues. Here’s why.)
(^See Carol Dweck’s Mindset.)
(^^From nassim Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness.)

I know my place, and it is a place of many possibilities

I am finding my place and choosing my path on this incredible journey. I have BIG dreams. I see possibility. I have endless curiosity. I make discoveries. I have a feeling of wonder.*
(Susan Verde)

That’s the purpose of memory. You remember the past not so that it is “accurately recorded,” to say it again, bit so you are prepared for the future.**
(Jordan Peterson)

Here I am, wondering what I’m supposed to get up to.

It can take a lifetime to figure out, but I think that’s okay, because the important thing is to never reach the end of our curiosity, to never run out of questions, to never grow tired of discovering, to never cease growing.

In her book for children of all ages, including sixty year olds, Susan Verde helps us to see that we are more than capable of keeping moving, of not becoming stuck:

I remind myself that because I AM human, I can make choices. I can move forward.*

Jordan Peterson identifies the benefits of the human ability and practice to remember in summary. Remembering is not about the past but about the future. So, Hugh Macleod caught my eye with some words to put alongside Peterson’s:

We are all haunted by something deep inside us, and often, a lot of our best work is the result of trying to come to terms with this.^

We know our place.

We are human.

Nothing can stop us from our incredible journey.

And whilst others can help you figure out what we are supposed to get up too. Only you really know.

(*From Susan Verde’s I Am Human.)
(**From Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life – my main August read.)
(^From gapingvoid’s blog: Spiritual redemption.)