As noted in the Prevention Can’t Work and Problems are Irrelevant! post, a prevention and problem focus is not a path to improvement. I only noted that prevention and problem elimination does not improve, however some research has now demonstrated that prevention efforts can be harmful. In other words, prevention effors can actually makes things worse than if nothing was done at all. The Scared Straight! program provides an example.
Studies of results from a number of Scared Straight programs showed that those in the program had increased crime rates and higher re-offense rates than those in control groups. Though they are unsure why, this peer reviewed research suggests that a focus on prevention caused more harm than doing nothing. This example suggests a need to focus on causing more good, not just less bad.
“Field of Dreams Illusion”
It is as if we have fall under a spell and believe the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” when they said, “If you build it, they will come”. That is a dream, it takes more to create a new reality, specifically it takes action to create a desired reality.
Thinking too Small
Focusing on problems or prevention is “thinking too small” and it is easier. Deciding what you don’t want is simple, putting in place what you do want is harder and takes more effort. As an example, it is easier to not like where we live, however as Melody Warnick and other demonstrate, creating attachment to place and having a higher quality of life takes action.
As noted in the Become by Doing post and by Andrew Huberman, PhD:
Simon Sinek has offered and provided many valuable resources including his excellent book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. I highlighted some of his work in this post, Talk without Your Phone – Everything can Benefit. Besides all that, he also has a good podcast called “A Bit of Optimism…” I listened to episode #57 when he talks with Pat Berges and he explains how he took action to cause what he wanted. Throughout the episode he discusses how his actions are what created the reality he desired so it I am adding it to this post because it seemed relevant.
The podcast webpages describe the episode this way:
Don’t you hate it when you’re coasting along — not a care in the world — and then it feels like life comes out of nowhere and hits you like a car, almost paralyzing you? Well, for Pat Berges, that wasn’t just a feeling…that actually happened.
Like many of us, Pat is not a natural optimist. He had to learn how to find optimism during this dark period. Not only did it help him recover, but what he learned continues to help him be, well, optimistic.
I encourage you to listen to this good podcast with Simon Sinek and Pat Berges.
The answer seems to be Doing Good Better, which is the title of an excellent book by William MacAskill. In this book he promotes methods for effective altruism. In the book he cites multiple data sets and empirical evidence to document that taking better actions to do good is necessary to cause or enable more good.
As another example, developing attachment to place has been shown to improve well-being as it improves the place, reciprocal determinism. Specifically Melody Warnick in her 2 books, If You Could Live Anywhere and This is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are, discusses 10 actions to use to develop attachment to place. More information about here work can be seen here (posted July 2022). You an also listen to this podcast with Melody here (also posted below). The methods proposed by Ms. Warnick which I strongly endorse will simultaneously improve a persons quality of life as it improves ones attachment to their place.
In simple terms, these are the actions she suggests:
- Buy and shop local
- Walk & Bike
- Get to know your neighbors
- Enjoy assets – spend time in area
- Experience nature
- Eat local food
- Be civically engaged
- Create something
- Build residence
Developing Attachment = Paneugenesis or All Good
Melody Warnick provides a fantastic example of how to practice paneugenesis to generate comprehensive improvements by creating net positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. The 10 actions espoused by Ms. Warnick, which I strongly support, will create attachment to place as it yields selfish, selfless synergistic benefits from which everyone and everything benefits. Please get Melody Warnick’s books to learn how to improve your life and share the benefits you experience as you take action to gain “attachment to place” by practicing paneugensis.
Please share your thoughts and questions below.
Contact me: BeWellr@gmail.com