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Let’s do a little exercise. A bit of awareness development does no harm. Feel free to interact when you are done.
4 unique phases
There are four universal phases in the cyclic patterns of life that have been identified. Each affects the way we perceive and deal with life’s circumstances. The phases are reflected in the drawing above. For the sake of awareness and understanding I have given them simple names that can be replaced by many other with a similar significance as you can see in the brackets:
1: Change (also: a new life, pioneer, awareness, young, renewal, hope, innovation, space, birth, adaptation, spring)
2: Balance (also: harmony, togetherness, adult, co-creation, trust, love, peace, construction, optimism, wellness, equality, stability, summer)
3: Stress (also: fear, bureaucracy, control, hierarchy, systems, old, growth, automation, speculation, greed, negation, pressure, autumn)
4: Crisis (also: break down, death, depression, competition, confrontations, theft, criminality, hate, distrust, individualism, discrimination, chaos, winter)
These four phases have also teased many economic, philosophical, mathematical, spiritual, anthropological, biological, etc analysts that you may have heard about. I am going to ask you to define where you stand and where you find your surroundings to be? Please decide at first sight where you feel you stand personally today as an individual? If you have difficulties with the bold names to identify your own status you may find it easier to refer to some other word in the brackets. You may feel in winter (referring to a cold spell in your life with crisis, problems, etc) or maybe a new period of passion and idealism (number 1)…
The four situations are not static. They follow each other up in the chronological, numerological order with 4 jumping into 1 again: 184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.4….. It does not always start at 4 nor 1 of course. It starts when you become aware of the cycles and start to use it for guidance. Your own starting point today is the number you chose at the poll.
So if you chose 2 (balance) you know that 3 (stress) will follow. This will lead to a crisis (4) and eventually to some kind of change (1). The cycle begins than again with a new moment of balance (2) for you. One situation always leads to the other. Sometimes slowly, sometimes very fast. Out of all four situations we always desire balance (2) most yet no matter how hard we try there is never a status quo in life. To achieve balance we need to accept the other three states also.
Life is on the move
Our life is far from static. We are influenced and challenged all the time by a large variety of impulses. Life is an adventure. We need to act to provide ourselves with the (primary) resources to stay alive. There are moments of abundance and scarcity. When abundance occurs we fear loosing it. When scarcity happens we become inventive to try to get back to abundance. We never really have balance because living life is by definition a permanent search for it through adaptive interaction with our surroundings. The amount of personal security we find in our surroundings determines also the amount of willingness we display to challenge it through change. When there is abundance we react relaxed to change, when there is a situation of crisis we are likely to suffer one too.
Where does your surroundings stand today?
If your surroundings influences our situation, behavior and decision making by providing abundance or shortages, opportunities or threats, how would you judge the current situation? You may take your family life as a benchmark, your job, the society you live in…..whatever determines your current situation today most? Don’t worry, the polls are anonymous. They are simply for the sake of awareness building while showing that you are not alone, what ever your specific situation would be.
When you compare your personal answer with that of your surroundings, how do they relate? Do they coincide (1 -1, 2 – 2, 3 – 3, 4- 4)? Are you ahead in the cycle (1-4, 2-1, 3-1) taking a crisis as a breaking point? Or are you lagging behind?
What are you going to do about it?
With this simple exercise of two projections on a universal cycle you make up your mind on how to deal with the situation. The exercise adds the cyclic view to your awareness, a kind of predictability that can be influenced by your level of self awareness and acceptance of these universal realities. So far it has just been a rational exercise of interpretation of these realities through a model by picking a number. The question “what are you doing about it?” draws you into the field of emotions.
Just imagine that you are happily living a harmonic life in the stability of situation 2 (balance). You suddenly now become aware that this situation may not last for ever. This may already be enough reason to enter the phase of stress (3). You will blame me for causing this stress and may want to get back into the dormant state of satisfaction.
Maybe you are in stress (3) of having to work in a job that you intensely dislike simply because you need to pay your mortgage. Your family is living in harmony (2) thanks to your salary. You may not dare to go out to find something else out of fear for a financial or relationship crisis (4). Many risk a burnout like this and enter a mental or physical crisis instead.
There are plenty of other situations thinkable in which you voluntarily or involuntarily have to deal with choices. At hindsight you often say “if only I had known” or “if I had done this or that”. This “if I had…” is of course frustrating but even more complicated is to take action with foresight when at first sight no action seems to be needed. We may call this leadership but we also often call it obsessive worries. Where the differentiation lies has to do with your own wisdom, vision, determination and guts. You are considered crazy or stupid by others when you fail and a hero when you succeed. Does that prevent you from considering action?
As an individual you determine your own life’s adventure. It becomes a different emotional story when you have responsibilities over other people. How do you deal with all this when you are a father or mother taking care of young children? Or the CEO of a large company with many employees? How does a city council deal with this responsibility or the country’s president? Or me, a person who wants the current societies to convert into sustainable human progress with Sustainocracy?
Understanding where you are is very helpful. Awareness about the cycle is key to take proactive action when time has come. Many organizations invest in a R&D to produce position 1 opportunities of change but find that the world has grown too complex and fast to come up with novelties alone. A good understanding of the psychology of human complexities is key, not just for business or political structures but for humankind as a whole.
In my previous blog post I made a spontaneous call for the content economy to replace the economy of growth. I realize that the call had a high level of abstraction and needs to be made a little more concrete in its comparison with the current paradigm of economies of growth. This is what I do now.
The easiest way to picture the content economy is by looking at a family (your own?) with up-growing children. The family is continuously influenced by the phases of development of the children, the aging of the parents, the facilities needed or desired in the house or by the people, the physical health, self-sufficiency in providing life support, the interior, size and quality of the space, the warmth of the family interaction, decoration of the dwelling, as well as the things that happen in the neighborhood around the house (in terms of safety, parking, social interaction with neighbors, etc). The family uses those influences to continuously renovate, adapt and modify the interior, the facilities and human interaction as the situation changes continuously for them over time. One of the key bonding factors of a family is the love that unites them in a common family mission of human wellness and evolution.
When the children are babies the house and social interaction is totally different then when the children are teenagers or when the parents have become pensioners and the children started a family life on their own, with maybe the external support of the parents. The stability and progress of the family is determined by its willingness to modify its functional structure, decoration, interaction, etc as the situations change. This is conducted by all members of the family who express their desires and contribute to the adaptability through progressive reflection, interaction, experimentation with innovations and decision making. Changes from outside are absorbed in this adaptability while the family itself is also continuously evaluating change and progress with their views, desires and means. The family wealth is determined by its warmth, love, respect, equality, proactive interaction and capacity to progress using human values as guiding principles. When someone is ill family members change their agenda to assist the person in need. When a celebration is appropriate all join in to acknowledge the pleasure. Gratitude for each other and for the wellness all enjoy is celebrated together and all act to maintain it through labor, creative contributions and sharing the fruits of all actions for the better and worst. People support each other. When accidents happen that may affect the safety or health of the family members the causes are found and dealt with. So when the open fire place is dirty and fills the house with smoke, the pipes are cleaned or the fire place is not used anymore for a while. When the child gets hurt because of a hazard in the house, the hazard is taken away or the child is taught how to deal with the danger. Interaction between the practical wisdom of the elderly and the youthful adventurousness of the children is protective but also progressive.
All this and more is content economy, based on the reflective, continuous develop of what “we are”, not on what “we have”. None of the family discussions for progress turn around money but the way they invest time, talent and energy in the progress of the family. Money is a means, the goal is something totally different and related to investments required to achieve them. Technology is also a means, as an instrument to support activities in the home, for recreation of educational purposes, maybe to cover the transportation needs of the family, whatever. Technology is not a goal either, it’s what one can do with it that matters. A family is rich when it is warm, caring, loving and supportive towards progress through mutual adaptiveness at all times.
When we step out into the world outside the family we see that the national economies have grown to become based on totally different principles since the introduction of growth based economies. Money has become the ultimate goal for politics and business enterprises for different reasons, yet in both cases the means became the goal. In our city and country environment we do allow pollution, criminality and things that hurt our fellow people. One out of three people have cancer now, many have lung and heart deceases, others have psychological or behavioral disorder, not caused by the lifestyle at home but by the way we organised society through economies of growth. Why do we allow things to happen in our society that we would not allow at home? Why do people who work in politics or business institutions accept participating in destruction while at home we work on health, safety and vitality? It has to do with choice, with paradigms that justify our actions, no questions asked. But maybe we should now ask ourselves those question and start looking at society and entrepreneurship from a different perspective, not an intellectual or scientific novelty but simply the way we would want it and organize things at home. The solution to all current crisis is not far away, it can be found very nearby…….at home.
If a content economy is possible at home within a family, it is also possible in our society. A family is the basic and most ancient format of human organisation and can be extended integrally to our surroundings. This does not allow for any growth criteria but addresses the content and meaning of our existence through social interaction and a culture around true sustainable progress. Let us place the differences next to each other to clarify our choices when we need to deal with it:
Growth Economy: speculation, based on “having”, external, material, shortages, competition, growth, conservatism, culture around greed, individualism, money is a goal, social and environmental issues secondary to financial growth, has no other “meaning” than statistical progress through growth, destructive, short term, etc.
Content Economy: care, based on “being”, internal, wellness, abundance, supportive, change, applied innovation, progression, culture around well-being, collective, interactive, social and environmental issues primary to progress, money is a means, meaningful, higher levels of awareness, constructive, evolutionary, etc.
The transformation from an economy of growth into one based on contents starts by elimination the word “growth” from the vocabulary and replace it for “meaningful change”. This has a tremendous effect on the way government addresses its responsibilities and how business transform too. We tend to blame our lifestyle for all the social and ecological mishaps around the world but most families in the world know perfectly well how to behave and live a decent and responsible life. If you care for your offspring at home you learn to appreciate health, safety, vitality and the need to keep them in place for the well-being of your loved ones. It are the systems that are being forced upon us through the cultural mentality of economic growth that lead to the problems. It is high time that the media, political parties, business and the individual citizens become aware and start the transformation themselves, closing off the speculative world from destroying further any of our wellness. And interestingly we have no need to wait for anyone to do this for us, no need for a politician to tell us to or any scientific research to figure out the truth. No, we can find the solution very nearby, looking at our own selves and the warmth of what most of us call home.