I had this post scheduled and then realized it would be posted on the day we celebrate Martin Luther King’s Birthday. I hope this is a tribute to the great work he did to help move our society forward. While his work is mostly associated with helping African American’s, all groups have benefitted and advanced because of his work. Rights for all groups have improved dramatically over the last 100 to 200 years. Women, religious groups, LGBTQ, and other marginalized groups have gained more rights and that is a wonderful sign of progress. As noted, the ability to CHOOSE a path in life, to have that freedom, is strong determining factor in the quality of our lives. Although life with purpose and meaning isn’t always associated with more happiness this only happen because meaning and purpose bring with it stress, worry and struggle. Meaning and purpose is a sign of a better life or at least one most would desire. Thank you Martin Luther King for helping move human kind to a better, more compassionate way of being. The point of this post, however, is to help us understand why we sometimes do not appreciate the tremendous progress we have made.
As humans, we need evidence to demonstrate we are doing better. Unfortunately, we are believing species and we can be misled (see Innate Gullibility highlights the Value of Predictability and Undoing Needed because Mental Illusions Impact Us). For instance, despite the fact we are doing dramatically better than ever before on so many fronts, many believe things are worse than ever because we forget how far we have come. We are more connected, more kind and more caring to each other than ever before. Of course there are problems, yet what should be most important to to feel good for how are we have come. We should record and note progress, what I refer to as Plotting Progress.
In Steven Pinkers excellent book,”Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress” he explains we forget the progress made because because the tracks of progress are erased. They are erased because we turn our attention to what remains to be done rather than how far we have come. Very convincing data upon data presented throughout the book demonstrates he amazing progress humans have made with regard to health, sustenance, wealth, inequality, the environment, peace, safety, terrorism democracy, equal rights, knowledge, quality of life, happiness and existential threats. He documents the progress while acknowledging there are still threats. Overwhelmingly, however he makes abundantly clear we are much better off than we were. For instance some suggest technology has keeps from person to person contact, yet previously, because of cost and ability to travel we were not able to see others much. Now, because of technology, lower costs, increased freedom of movement and much more, we are able to connect more than ever. Think of extended family members who can now see grandchildren and or other family members at essentially no cost through FaceTime, Skype or other applications.
A personal example was evident when my daughter did a summer trip to Peru with a college group. When she was in Peru, not only could we talk to her at anytime, even see her often through technology, we could track her as long as he had her phone or watch on her person. When my wife came to America from Sweden in college, here parents had to just hope they would hear from her regularly. This is a dramatic difference.
The belief that we are worse off despite us being so much better off could be a loss aversion reaction. By this I mean we are very afraid of losing what we have. As Kahneman & Tversky, Barbara Fredrickson and Corey Keye’s research demonstrates, along with what I show in my work, negative is more impactful than positive events. The general understanding is that we need to have a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative events to be thriving or to feel as if we are flourishing.
In the Global Wellness Brief, economist Thierry Malleret addressed this issue by asking, The World Is Better Than It’s Ever Been, So Why Are We So Miserable? Malleret hypothesizes these increased opportunities have created to much distress. Either way, this highlights why a step of the Paneugenesis Process or how to create all good is to “Plot Process”. We must take time to document the progress that has been made from our efforts so the tracks do not disappear. The other value of Plotting Process is it gives a place to start to engaging in continual improvement.
As a reminder, Paneugenesis is a way to generate comprehensive improvements by generating pervasive reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. We all can do this…
Practice Paneugenesis using this 4 Step to Process
- Operationalize Desired Idealized Outcome
- Determine an Idealized outcome that is better or improved from what is possible or able to happen now
- Must incorporate Systems Thinking so the outcome benefits are on multiple levels without any seen harm to other levels
- Discover and Develop Necessary Precursors to make Desired Outcome Possible
- Research to discover what must come before idealized outcome, what must be true for desired outcome to occur
- Assess current process to discover and learn current processes used or must be created to manifest ideal outcomes
- Optimize the Process to Develop Skills and abilities that make Precursors possible(this is Green Grass philosophy, its designing a process to help grass grow)
- Develop good practices (append existing or start new processes)
- Update unneeded, outdated or inappropriate actions to ones that created idealized vision, and
- Plot Progress to document, demonstrate, and celebrate Improvement
- Measure and document progress forward toward idealized outcome
- Plan and develop next steps to enable continual improvement
Although the point of this post was to appreciate our progress, we must never forget to continually build on that progress or consequences. In other words, we must continually work to achieve progress. As you know, I will work for progress by generating comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits, or by practicing paneugenesis. I look forward to hearing about the progress you help generate.
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