I hope this video inspired you to create meaning in your life. I do this by working to generate comprehensive improvements by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. Please share what this video motivated you to do. Thank you.
I am reading Austin Kleon’s short book, “Show Your Work.” His book recommends a daily dispatch that shows your work and documents progress. For years, I have been developing techniques, strategies, and practices to generate more good, not just less bad. I need to do more, so I am adopting his strategy of posting regular work dispatches. Here is an overview of my progress to date.
More Good Progress…so far
I have been working on this task for over 30 years. My mission is to emphasize more good focus for the long term. Less bad is essential in short-term, acute situations. I have yet to hear that people disagree with this effort, but the idea has not diffused or circulated as needed. The focus on less bad or less pathology dominates our world. Therefore, I will use Austin Kleon’s advice and post my work to hold myself accountable.
During my efforts to date, I have been working as a professor since 2001 and have a Ph.D. from Arizona State University. I have about 100 national and international publications and presentations about how to create or cause good health, which, as research has also demonstrated, effectively prevents or ends bad health…as a by-product. This work is summarized in the linked publication about the paneugenesis model, “Going on Offense to Promote Health Promotion Gains.” Additionally, the linked 2019 article by colleague Dr. Michael Stellefson discusses this idea by categorizing these efforts as a promotion of “Chronic Wellness.” For more, see the article, Planting a Tree Model for Public Health: Shifting the Paradigm Toward Chronic Wellness
If you are interested and have time, below are some links to presentations, papers, and online resources to my work. The best way to learn about my work is the 17-minute linked presentation, Create More Good, Not Just Less Bad. I gave this talk to the sustainability committee at East Carolina University (ECU).
If you are interested in learning more about these scales, I linked an article validating my positive health scale, “Validity Evidence for the Salutogenic Wellness Promotion Scale (SWPS).” I have also linked an article about how focusing on generating more good helped us understand what helps students thrive. The study used the SWPS to measure the process, and what we learned about the student’s lifestyle process and it relates to doing well is described in the”What Helps Students Thrive” article.
Unfortunately, I have not made desired progress in transforming society toward more good, not just less bad. However, I will forge ahead, and I hope you will help. My current efforts focus on disseminating these positive health ideas and practices and assisting people in adopting these practices. I will use the Diffusion of Innovations Theory to guide my future work. I hope to publish a related article soon.
Please share any advice and contact me if you want to help at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, 252-328-5312, or on this blog. I look forward to hearing from you about how we can work together to generate comprehensive improvements by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.
… A preventive innovation is an idea that an idnividual adopts at one point in time in order to lower the probablity that some future unwanted event may occur. The unwanted future event might not have happened anyway, even without adoption of the preventive innovation, so the relative advantage is not very clear cut to the individual at the time they are urged to adopt by public health programs. Also the prevented events do not occur, and thuse they cannot be observed or counted…For these reasons, preventive innovations…have a relatively slow rate of adoption.”
Everett Rogers, PhD – p. 69 “Diffusion of Inovations” 5th Ed.
What do you think? Do you agree this provides a good foundation for why the focus should be on more good, not JUST less bad? Please share your thoughts on the best ways to move forward. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.
I know it is an impossible show and could not happen. However, I found Manifest, a series on Netflix, an interesting show. I look forward to its continuation on June 2, 2023. What I found most interesting in the series was the repeated message that everything is connected and that we all are on the same lifeboat. The often repeated message in the show is that we should help everybody do well because we all do well when we all do well. This is also the finding of my research. According to my work and many others, we are all connected, and the ripple effect of doing good causes good that ripples out.
If you are one of my readers, you will see how this also relates to yesterday’s Post, about Stephen Post’s book, “Why God Things Happen to Good People.”
In other words, Manifest seems to promote the creation of all the good messages I send out. This message is that all good can be accomplished by generating comprehensive improvements. I note that this is the concept of Paneugenesis – which literally means creating all good. Practicing paneugenesis is accomplished by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits (see video below). Please share how you generate comprehensive improvements by practicing paneugenesis!
Dr. Post does a fantastic job documenting why and how good things happen to good people for taking beneficial actions. At the end of the book, he suggests this is ultimately selfishness because we get the most for ourselves by giving to other people. “Why Good Things Happen to Good People” is a good read that reinforces how being a good person helps others as it also helps us. I thought he especially did an excellent job helping us learn how to be better listeners and better communicators with each other.
Throughout the book, he suggests 40 ways to give love – 10 areas in 4 domains (Family, Friends, Community, & Humanity). His 10 ways to capture Love include:
Celebration – gratitude through ritual
Generativity – generating love
Forgiveness – freeing the self from guilt, pain, rumination, and bitterness
Courage – confrontation with caring, what he calls Carefrontation
Humor – used to convert pain to joy
Respect – civility, acceptance, reverence, and appreciation
Compassion – empathetic, emotionally caring
Loyalty – loving over time and difficulties
Listening – giving attention and foundation of relationships
Creativity – the spontaneous, joyful expression of life
All of these 10 suggestions provide great ways to share love. For each, supporting research evidence of “Why Good Things Happen to Good People” is provided. Of course, he is also saying good people should do these 10 things.
Better Listening Suggestions
He offered many communication suggestions, which I thought were especially good. A couple I have been working on using include using my mirroring ability to be able to better empathize with what others experience. This, he suggests, may also help me better understand. Another way he suggests improving communication is by repeating back emotional words heard and asking for more information to better connect. Using this, he suggests a way to empathetically probe without judgment. He suggests this method can help us all connect better. I like these suggestions and will work to use these ideas. Have you used these techniques? Please share how they work for you.
Another insight I liked was about belonging. As I have seen many times, one of our most basic human needs is to belong. Interestingly, Post says when we change, such as to a quadriplegic from an accident, or even more simply, when entering a new group, we will feel as if we don’t belong.
Throughout life, we often change into different kinds of people. A person may be newly married, become a college student, or do any other new activity. We don’t feel like we belong when entering a new area because it is different. The feeling we experience, according to Post, makes us feel like an outsider and alone. He says it is at this point we want what we had yesterday — that is, to feel like we belong. In other words, he seems to be saying we are experiencing what Kahneman and Tversky called Loss Aversion and want what we had yesterday. There are many interesting and helpful suggestions throughout the book. It was better than I had expected.
Sometimes art imitates life, and other times, life imitates life. Well, at least I often see things in shows I find meaningful. A meaningful concept I recently saw was the repeated message in the Netflix series Manifest, that it is all connected. As I have noted many times, it is all connected.
Capturing the idea of connection, at the end of his book, Post says this is all about selfishness. As I noted in the review I posted on GoodReads and Google Books, “…While all this is good, we must also ensure these actions do good for the environment, or all will suffer. I hope he pushes for not just selfishness but selfish, selfless, synergy, so these promoted interactions become net-positive, pervasive, and reciprocal so everyone and everything benefits,” as I promote with the Paneugenesis video below. Everything is interconnected, so we must generate more good by generating comprehensive improvements. True selfishness is selfless, “…if you understand how the world works” stated President Clinton in the 1-minute video below.
We need laws that encourage, support, and reinforce organizational behaviors requiring corporations to take care of their products through their full lifecycle.
I have written about the “Cradle to Cradle” rather than “Cradle to Grave” care discussed by McDonough and Braungart in Cradle to Cradle and Upcycle. Their books discuss the life cycle of products from the beginning, Cradle, until they are not used anymore and disposed of, Grave. Their concept was to use products until the end of their useful life. When products cannot be used anymore, the products should be “upcycled”, not trashed, so the materials from the product can be used again. See Concept: Create More Good, Not Just Less Bad.
Overall they are referring to the organizations that extract material, then manufacture a product to sell, which eventually ends up as waste. Their concept was for organizations to be responsible for the products and all it took to make them until the end. The end, however, should be an “upcycle” where it is used for a greater purpose or at least where it is used as recycled material for new products, so more virgin material does not get extracted. While I understood this intellectually, I did not understand what it meant until I picked up garbage on our beautiful Greenways in Greenville, NC.
While picking up garbage on the Greenway, I realized there was no way to trace back these waste materials. Of course, many would suggest we should just more severely restrict people from dumping their garbage. That solution, however, is unlikely to work. Penalizing people is a day late and a dollar short. After all, nobody likes being told what to do to cause less bad. They want to be responsible for more good.
Hard to See Financial Benefits
At first glance, the benefits of being responsible for products from the cradle to the grave are hard to see. These benefits are what Kahneman & Tversky would call mental illusions. In reality, with effort, having organizations be responsible for their products through their lifecycle can be financially beneficial for them as it also benefits society, as a by-product. In a Karma-like fashion, organizations that do good for society get more business due to the good feelings generated by their efforts. This is true and has been documented by Interface, Inc., a modular carpet company (see We Must Make It Better – Saving the Planet not Enough!)
Right now, we only have cradle-to-grave legislation for hazardous materials. Why don’t we do it for all materials? People are supposed to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, and since corporations are considered people, they should be held to the same standard. Upon reflection, however, this would not be a problem but a benefit. Being a better steward of their business and the materials used would yield less expensive operations, better processes, better use of resources, and a cleaner world.
In other words, seeing all the garbage in greenways showed me what happens to the cradle if it is not brought home. (ok, not a perfect analogy) I know there is more to be done – such as advocating for new laws. However, we could begin to generate comprehensive improvements by moving toward a default standard that helps organizations be responsible for their goods from the cradle to the grave or, ideally, cradle to cradle. This means we should push for legislation, laws, studies, and more that document the benefits to organizations, people, environments, and more when actions upcycle used goods, not just cause less waste.
In other words, “nudging” organizations, with better regulations, to be more responsible for their products, so they do not become garbage like I saw on the greenways could help generate comprehensive improvements. These new laws would push organizations to work like Interface, Inc, which has been able to create net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, and profitable synergistic processes from which everyone and everything would benefit.
Please share information about other organizations that have learned how to bring the cradle home by following a path to generate more good and how it has made them more profitable and better contributing members of society. I look forward to hearing from you.
To me, his books explained that although hard work cannot cause success, it is a necessary ingredient. Without hard work and preparation, success at anything is less likely. In our world, the idea of random success seems unfair and is not something one can hope to occur.
Even though we want to believe hard work is enough, we know that our world is random. Too strong a belief in randomness and its influence over our life is debilitating. Despite this contradiction, we want to believe we can influence life even with the powerful and overpowering influence of random events. As Israel Zangwill, an English dramatist proclaimed,
“Take from me the hope that I can change the future, and you will send me mad.”
Israel Zangwill – Ghetto Tragedies
In his excellent books, Nassim Taleb provides an interesting perspective on the situation related to the idea of randomness and how it affects our lives. His perspective seems influenced by his work as a Trader on Wall Street.
An excellent point he explains in his books is how we are a backward looking species, and our hindsight bias makes past events seem less random than they were. Our brains automatically fill in the missing pieces. He artfully explains how our biased brain works and how randomness affects us. He often cites and uses the work of Nobel prize-winning psychologists Daniel Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky, who examined how our biases impact the decisions we make under uncertainty. They concluded that life often leads us to misread reality and have “Mental Illusions”. (see Undoing Needed because Mental Illusions Impact Us).
While he documents that we are designed by nature to fool ourselves, as Kahneman & Tversky’s work has shown, we have an opportunity to tilt the table in our favor. The opportunity exists because we evolved in a much slower moving world than exists today. As he notes, this means we are more susceptible to chance, but we can improve our chances by being prepared like nature.
As he explains, great and extensive preparation cannot and does not cause success, but it does improve the chances for success. It can tilt the tables in our favor and improve the probability of success. From my reading, it means that although hard work to prepare cannot cause success, success without hard work and preparation is unlikely.
He further explains that, unlike nature, we do not overprepare but should. Nature, in essence, prepares for the next occurrence by over-preparing for higher exposure. This is why nature builds redundancy with spare parts, i.e. 2 kidneys. Over preparing, as is done by nature, which we are a part of (see Updated: We are Just Talking Apes), also means we have the capacity to exceed expectations. This function by nature is also documented by Jane Benyus in Biomimicry (see Parallel NOT Linear Means Create Positive AND Prevent Negative)
Instead of building more capacity, we do the opposite by using leverage such as debt or worst case scenario preparation. As he notes, this type of testing cannot be only for what has already happened because the data for what could be worse does not exist. This becomes even more relevant with ongoing climate change. He calls this naive empiricism. As he explained, contrary to conventional wisdom, our body of knowledge does not increase from a series of confirmatory observations (i.e. Turkey killed 1 day, but all other days were ok, so we cannot predict).
As Yogi Berra mused:
“Its tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
Some insights from these books were:
1. We are more emotional than we are rational. We can train ourselves to be more rational, reasonable, or logical; but we need emotions to be able to function effectively. Training our emotions is good but we must remember that we cannot be Spock from Star Trek because we could never make decisions without emotions.
2. Wild success is possible but we need luck. Luck however cannot happen without being prepared, and being prepared takes hard work. Like Gladwell explained in “Blink” and “Outliers”, we can trust our gut to make great decisions but that gut must first be trained well – 10,000 hours to become an expert. In other words, the age old saying that hard work leads to success is only partially right. Hard work cannot guarantee success, but without the work, success because highly unlikely.
3. A final point that has stayed with me from “Black Swan” was “the absence of evidence is not evidence of its absence.” This is something I now apply to many aspects of my life. He provides examples such as breast milk, which they did not initially see as beneficial because of what was measured. They only looked to see if problems were caused, not if benefits were gained. No evidence of benefits does not mean there were none.
Nassim Taleb seems to suggest we should work to generate comprehensive improvements by working like nature. As he details, we cannot rely on randomness but can generate comprehensive improvements by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits by over preparing. Please share how you overprepare and how it has helped. I look forward to hearing from you.
Vic Strecher, who wrote “Life on Purpose” and “On Purpose” also regularly publishes Purposeful tips. For 2023 he sent a great New Year’s Message. I want to promote his message about taking action to make good things happen.
“His Recommendation – frame messages as something positive to do, not something to avoid or something you will not do. Not taking action does not make good things happen; it may only possibly stop bad things from happening. Our life is about what we do because doing good things can””crowd out” bad things; as noted in previous posts, “His Recommendation – frame messages as something positive to do, not something to avoid or something you will not do. Not taking action does not make good things happen; it may only possibly stop bad things from happening. Our life is about what we do because doing good things can “crowd out” bad things, as noted in previous posts,
For the New Year 2023, focus on what you will do, not what you will avoid. I focus on creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone benefits. Doing this is the best way I know to generate comprehensive improvements. Please share how you make 2023 and beyond even better.
Aloha from Hawaii. An interesting fact I learned is that it is pronounced HaVaii, not HaWaii. The V sound should be used when a W is in the middle of a word. The W does have the W sound if the W is at the beginning or end of a word like for Waikiki beach.
Our visit to Hawaii also made me think more about a post I had started that was about the Feature Positive Effects. The Feature Positive Effect describes how we are more aware of and cognizant of things that are present rather than items that are absent. In Hawaii, we are constantly in nature and it becomes more present. With the aloha spirit, no beaches can be private in Hawaii – all must have public access.
Making Research Real
As a student and as a professor, I find it most important to understand what I am learning means to me in my life and how I can use this new knowledge in my life. Feature Positive Effect explains that we see the presence of things more than their absence. This may be why prevention efforts are generally less effective. Why should people be willing to try to eliminate something that does not exist? Remember if we are preventing something, it cannot exist now.
Even so, what does the Feature Positive Effect mean in real life? I noticed an example recently. Toward the end of the semester, I grew a beard. Many people commented about the beard, probably because it was present. Then near the end of the semester, I shaved it off. Nobody said anything. In other words, the absence of the beard was not noticed, only its presence. Even when I said something to people they responded with a comment such as, “oh yeah, it is gone.” To me that could be an example of the Feature Positive Effect, Default to Truth, or Status Quo Bias since no beard is normal for me.
Most of us want to make a positive impact in life. Feature Positive suggests we should do something that results in the presence of something noticeable, rather than prevent something which results in the absence of something we don’t want. For this and many other reasons, I attempt to generate comprehensive improvements by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic benefits so everyone and everything benefits – the presence of something good. I look forward to hearing about how you create the presence of more good things.
On Halloween, October 31, 2021 60 minutes shared an amazing story about MASS, Model of Architecture Serving Society, a non-profit architecture firm. Using the best designs, they developed hospitals that were amazing. Please watch the 60 minutes story below to learn more. However the most amazing part of this story is how they built on their initial success.
Building on Fantastic
After creating hospitals for Rwanda that better serve their communities by using locals sources for labor and material, they have now created a regenerative university in Rwanda. The story is linked to the headline below
Below is also a TED talk by Michael Murphy, “Architecture that’s Built to Heal”, shares more about how this amazing story started. He says we are designing hospitals to make people healthier as it reduces its environmental footprint.
Most important to me is how MASS demonstrated how their architecture techniques can generate comprehensive improvements by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. I am sure many more are doing this, please learn from these fantastic people at MASS and share how we can build on their successes!
I was honored that Sydnii Robinson Co-authored this post with me. Thank you, Sydnii.
Complaining begets more complaints. Anger begets more anger. And optimism begets more optimism.
As Simon Sinek suggests, what we do creates more of what we have done. In other words, “Good begets Good”. Evidence suggests that if we work to become the best version of ourselves possible, this will generate good for all. This runs counter to many of our efforts. It seems we are always trying to solve problems. For instance, we want to “End violence,”; “Stop Inactivity,”; or “Stop eating Fat”. While these actions may be morally correct, they do not create what we want.
Ending violence cannot give us what we want, love and caring. Love and caring, however, have the potential to “crowd out” violence as it creates the reality we desire. Stopping what shouldn’t be done does not and cannot cause what can be done. It may provide room to do the right thing, but doing the right thing takes courageous effort and action. For example, we cannot end procrastination unless we do something.
As a personal example, I have had back trouble every 6 months or so. Then we finally realized my legs are different sizes, only a 1 cm difference. This slight difference altered my walk and caused severe back and hip pain. It is all connected.
When I first got the small lift for my shoe, it felt like I had someone else’s legs – they felt strange and uncoordinated. Not doing anything, of course, would mean it would continue to feel strange. However, with walking and attempts at running, my legs are beginning to feel normal again. As noted by Deming’s Appreciation for a System, General Equilibrium Theory,Risk Homeostasis Theory, Zoobiquity, and so much more, when we change anything, we change everything. As John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, noted:
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it is attached to the rest of the world.”
John Muir. All things in the universe are interrelated.
I believed ending bad cannot cause good. However, after I saw Seaspiracy, I thought there was an exception. The recommendation in Seaspiracy is “…to stop eating fish” to end ocean fishing. The logic seems sound. If we stop eating fish, the demand for fish will stop. After demand decreases, because it is a connected system, the lack of demand will end ocean animal agriculture. However, upon reflection, that was too simple. Either way, I strongly recommend you watch Seaspiracy if you have not seen it yet (the trailer is below – it is on Netflix).
To me, one of the most fascinating and enlightening facts in the movie was the role fish and their excrement play in managing both carbon and the health of coral reefs. We have heard warming is hurting the coral, but we haven’t heard that healthy coral reefs require more fish, and the bonus is that more fish also will capture and store more carbon as they enhance the health of coral reefs. Please share what you find most fascinating in the movie.
Another impactful takeaway from Seaspiracy was that deep-sea fishing, called bottom trawling, causes an estimated 3.9BILLION acres of seafloor deforestation per year. This means sea floor trawling is way more destructive than land deforestation, estimated to be 25 million acres per year. Despite its immense damage, it is not seen by satellites or by people living near it because it is underwater. It is alarming and certainly justifies the “stop eating fish” recommendation. Can some experts share their knowledge about this information and data to confirm these concerns?
It seems obvious; however, the recommendation to “stop eating fish” is too simple. As the Losada Line, Kahneman & Tversky’s Loss Aversion, and Gottmans work with marriage documents, we need more good, not just less bad to ignite action. Not only will people feel deprived, making it unlikely for the action to continue, but research also demonstrates that unless we provide people with a better alternative, doing without, such as doing without seafood, will not take hold. On top of that, the proclamation that we should not eat fish will add guilt when seafood is eaten, and this will lower life quality of life.
What do we do?
To do something that can make a difference in this interconnected world, take action to become the best version of yourself by eating whole plant foods. As noted in the movie by James Cameron, Game Changers, plant based nutrition is the necessary ingredient for athletes and people to perform and think their best. The action recommended to be our best in Game Changes means we don’t eat fish.
In other words, eating plant based nutrition to become the best version of ourselves is also what will be best for the world and will also help solve the problem of animal agriculture.
Brad Lancaster provides a great example of how to do good that begets more good as a “Water Harvester”. I encourage you to watch as he shows how doing good begets more good.
I also recommend you watch Eating Our Way to Extinction. It does a good job of documenting our situation and supports actions we can take to help us become the best version of ourselves. The actions recommended in this movie will also benefit everyone and everything.
I live to make my life as good as possible, and doing so helps me become a better version of myself. What I find rewarding is that my actions to improve myself generate comprehensive improvements. These improvements also lead to net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions from which everyone and everything benefits, which is paneugenesis or creating all good. This post shares more ways to become a better version of yourself that will also make a positive contribution. What more could we ask for?
Please share how you make your contribution so we can learn from your actions, and also share how you integrate this idea into your life. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.
I recently had the opportunity to attend the NCBikeWalk Summit. The conference was a good reminder of the tremendous impact communities have on our lives. The focus of the summit was on “active mobility” and a move away from our car-centric communities. This is good from many perspectives, most especially for our quality of life as it also reduces our reliance on fossil fuels.
I learned a great deal at this summit, including learning from Melody Warnick about how we can better our home and develop “Place Attachment” by walking and biking. I encourage you to review her resources here. I also discussed her work in the post Prevention Can Be Harmful.
David Zipper also provided a fantastic keynote. He captured the simple concept of mundane mobility. As he states in his excellent article, “It’s Time for Some Cheap and Boring Transportation Solutions”, rather than paying to get the next expensive invention such as a hyperloop or autonomous vehicles, we should develop “Mundane Mobility solutions” because they
“…actually work…don’t grab headlines, but… also (won’t) break a city’s budget or trigger angry pushback”
This means instead of having FOMO – or Fear of Missing Out – as he explains in the article, “What does FOMO have to do with urban mobility policy?, we should focus on better ways to commute. FOMO should have nothing to do with policy, but in reality, it impacts policy quite a bit”. He suggests FOMO should not impact policy because cities should “…embrace whatever solutions can bring the most benefit to the most people”. As he documents, these mundane include greenways, biking lanes, pedestrian cities, and other simple ideas desired by many.
Melody Warnick even highlighted that 60% want walkable and bike-able neighborhoods. It was this strong desire that generated the creation of a Walk Score so people could choose cities that make walking and biking easier by being more accessible. Walk score rates a city’s walkable opportunities. Walkability has become so desired and valuable that it is even being used by real-estate sites such as Zillow so they can better evaluate neighborhoods. It impacts our lives. Studies show walkers are happier than commuters. One study suggests if walkers became commuters they would need a 40% raise to get the same satisfaction.
Overall, mundane mobility can generate comprehensive improvements by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions from which everyone and everyone benefits. Mundane mobility is another way to practice paneugenesis to create all good. Please share how mundane mobility has impacted your life. Do you walk or commute? Which do you prefer? Why?…
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 efforts can actually make things worse than if nothing was done at all. TheScared Straight! program provides an example.
Studies of results from several 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 focusing on causing more good, not just less bad.
“Field of Dreams Illusion”
It is as if we have fallen 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 others demonstrate, creating an attachment to a place and having a higher quality of life takes action.
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.
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 an 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 an attachment to a place. More information about her work can be seen here (posted July 2022). You can 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 person’s quality of life as it improves one’s 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 the area
Eat local food
Be civically engaged
Developing Attachment = Paneugenesis or All Good
Melody Warnick provides a fantastic example of practicing 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 an 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 pangeugenesis.
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 the idealized outcome, what must be true for the desired outcome to occur
Assess current process to discover and learn current processes used or must be created to manifest ideal outcomes
These Precursors are goals that must be achieved before an Idealized Outcome can be realized.
Optimize the Process to Develop Skills and abilities that make Precursors possible (this is Green Grass philosophy, it’s designing a process to help the grass grow)
Develop good practices (append existing or start new processes)
Update unneeded, outdated, or inappropriate actions to ones that created an idealized vision,
Focus on what causes more and more blades of grass to grow, and…
Plot Progress to document, demonstrate, and celebrate Improvement
Measure and document progress forward toward the idealized outcome
Plan and develop the next steps to enable continual improvement
Experience has documented that the hardest part is also the most important. This is step 1 which requires Creating and Operationalizing an Idealized Outcome. To operationalize means all parties understand the goals and aims.
People often avoid generating an idealized outcome and fall back on the default of noting problems that explain why things are not ideal. That is easier, and most importantly, if improvement beyond the status quo is desired, doesn’t actually make things better. It can’t be better than the status quo because Prevention Can’t Work and Problems are Irrelevant!
I noted all this because Damon Gameau and his team appear to have created 2 films that Operationalize Idealized outcomes. These 2 movies are 2040 (I ordered and watched them)
And Regenerating Australia. Right now information suggests this movie is not available in the US yet, but I am trying to get a copy. Please advise if you know how I can get a copy.
I encourage you to learn more about his work so you also can be inspired to use the Paneugenesis Process to generate and create idealized outcomes. I look forward to learning about how you generate comprehensive improvements by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.
Over and over it seems I have heard that the smartest person in the room is the best listener, and they say you can’t learn anything from others while talking, etc. In a recent post, Trust but Verify, I noted that sometimes the universe seems to be sending messages. The message last week that the universe kept sending, but it took time for me to hear, was that I should Trust but Verify. This week I am finally hearing another message the universe continues to share over and over, but for some reason, I was hearing it without fully internalizing it.
This idea that “nature knows best” was also captured by Amory Lovins in the 1976 article, An Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken. The article described the options as a soft versus hard path. See post: Policy for Comprehensive Improvements. The soft path worked with and facilitated what would happen and did not force outcomes as in the “Heat, Beat, Treat” traditional method. As he demonstrated, the soft path was a better path economically, environmentally, and concerning the quality of life.
The Soft Path by Amory Lovins, The Gaia Hypothesis, and Deming’s System Appreciation and System of Profound Knowledge all replicate nature’s methods and call for engaging in net positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic actions so everyone and everything benefits. It is what I call the Paneugenesis Process.
As we build a better system, this new system must build a green economy that works with our environment, not against it, by using the soft, not the hard path. Our traditional, thought to be a clever method of “Heat Beat Treat’, or forcing nature to comply, was not as good as we thought. A better way works with nature as Janine Benyus, of Biomimicry fame, made these methods much more popular.
A better system has been shown over and over to us by the universe as one that works with nature to generate comprehensive benefits. Better listening skills would have helped me hear this message more clearly. Listening has helped me understand that pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions, a soft path, will also benefit the environment and enable us to thrive from our actions.
Act Now – Act to Think
Although these actions seem obvious in retrospect, my slow understanding means we must Act to think and not wait to believe it before we act. Huberman’s research supports this approach.
Beliefs do not change our actions, Actions change our beliefs.
Andrew Huberman, PhD – Stanford
Other benefits follow, as noted by Dr. James Lovelock and his Gaia Hypothesis:
…if the Earth improves because of our presence, then we will flourish.
What is the Moral?
Messages are out there. We must listen by seeing what works without forcing it to happen. The soft path, not the hard path, as described by Amory Lovins, will help. It is not about forcing an outcome. It is about not getting in the way and helping it happen. If we listen to and work with nature, thus making life more livable, amazing things are possible for everyone and everything because of it.
What is the universe telling us that you have not internalized? Please share what you have learned and how you worked with nature to generate comprehensive improvements.