Anyone who has had the opportunity to go to a training session or professional development event will know that the power of change and the ability to adapt is one of the most important skills we can learn. We live in an incredibly complex world that seems to be mercilessly dragging us along as it changes on a dime and constantly presents us with more challenges to overcome. It is overwhelming to say the least, but we all manage the anxiety that this situation brings knowing that we as people are incredibly smart and capable of adapting to any situation.
This gives us the strength to confront the world and provides us with the comfort of knowing that we will be all right. But in order to make use of this incredible ability to adapt we must do one thing above all else: we must understand, as best we can, the world around us. We must know the problems we are facing so we can determine the best solutions to ensure the continuation of mankind and the safety and security of generations to come.
But I would like to present a new perspective, one that points out how this type of thinking might just be what is getting in the way of our efforts to truly make this world a better place. This idea rests on one key concept:
We cannot understand the world around us.
It is far too complex, interconnected, multilayered and just plain old too big to possibly be able to understand it. There are too many of us thinking and doing too many different things and this makes any effort to comprehend it fall short and leaves us scratching our heads when plans don’t work out as we expected. This presents a complicated situation, because how can we possibly hope to inflict change on something we cannot hope to ever understand?
We are constantly searching for new ways to solve our problems; we rely on human innovation to get us out of the mess we created, but one could just as easily say that human innovation is what caused it in the first place. The point here is not to say that technology and innovation have ruined our lives. This is a position that not even I am cynical enough to accept. The improvements in communications and health alone have helped create a world where a human being can expect a long and worthwhile life. But even with is, I’d like to point out that perhaps this innovation has blinded us to believe that it can resolve any problem that comes our way. In other words, any solution we come up with we will be inherently flawed because it has been created from incomplete information. It’s like making a presentation at work about your company’s market share without fully understanding the market and its participants. Colleagues and managers would dismiss your results based on faulty information. This is what happens to us when we look to learn about the world around us in an attempt to help improve it.
So where can we look?
The answer is easy, ourselves. It is easy in the sense that it requires very little, but it is hard when it comes time to put it in practice. Instead of looking to the world around us and trying to create new ways to fix it, we should be focusing on how we can change and improve ourselves.
To give a metaphor, consider the following statement:
The world could solve all its problems if we would all just stop for a moment to appreciate the beauty of a flower.
A thought like this sounds unrealistic and romantic. Some might even say that it sounds childish, but its simplicity is what makes it so beautiful. We surround ourselves with so much and we are constantly trying to create a world where others have access to the same things we do, but how often do we stop to enjoy the warm sun on our face, or to drink in the songs the birds sing in the morning, or to deeply smell our coffee as it brews before breakfast? These things seem like small and insignificant moments of our lives, but they anything but this. They are the beauty that is life; the beauty to wake up every day and to bask in the glory that is to be alive. Without these things, we would be hopeless, lost and sad.
We all can surely relate to this. The example of the warm sun is one that we all share. Imagine, it’s a cold March day and the last few weeks have been cloudy and gloomy. Then one day spring decides to make an appearance and the joy it brings makes us forget about all those sad, cold days of the previous weeks. Something as simple and as common as the sun can bring us so much joy, but we need to learn to appreciate it more than just the days when its presence harshly reminds us of its absence. It is there all the time, providing us with life, but it is up to us to make the decision to appreciate it each and every day.
The sun metaphor perhaps has hippy-haters rolling their eyes, but it is simply that: a metaphor. There is beauty in all our lives and it is surrounding us constantly. The only problem is that we are not aware of it. We absorb ourselves in our lives and in our problems and we become blind to what is right in front of us. It is normal to feel stress and anxiety in our lives, there are so many different sources, but we do truly possess the power to push them away and appreciate what it is we have right in front of us. Once we do this, things like politics, economics, wars, money, etc. will seem so small and the arguments they produce will seem so petty.
So maybe all this talk about change, adaptation, growth, learning and surviving is being channeled in the wrong direction. Maybe instead of focusing these things on the world around us, we should instead be focusing them on ourselves. Instead of trying to learn how to change the world, we should be learning how to change ourselves to help those around us and to be better friends, brothers, sisters, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, etc., etc., etc. Maybe instead of trying to figure out how to adapt to climate change and to a growing population, we should be trying to learn how to adapt ourselves to stressful situations so that we can maintain calm and approach them with purpose and confidence. Maybe instead of trying to learn all that we can about the world around us, we should be trying to learn as much as we can about ourselves so that we can be the change we want to see in the world and lead by example.
Understanding what it means to be a human being is complicated enough and trying to understand that plus the world around us leads to stress and often times to pain and suffering. If we all took the time to learn about who we are and what makes us human and if we combined this with a respect for the individuality of this search, the world would almost certainly be a better place.
We would see that we don’t need more communication, more technology, more opportunities, more institutions, more laws, more governments, and more of so much more. Instead, we would learn that we have everything we could every want or need right in front of us and that we will never be able to enjoy those things unless we open our eyes and decide to enjoy them.
What are some things that help you remember the beauty of everyday life? What are some things you do to help you improve yourself and be the change you want to be? Comment below and let’s share what works for each of us.