Becoming Resilient

LifeTree News
Creating Prosperity with Harmony
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D.
October, 2010
 
 Becoming Resilient
 
 1.  Welcome
 2.  Becoming Resilient
 3.  Key Essentials for Change
 4.  Relationships Build Happiness
 5.  Announcements
 
 1.  Welcome
 
 Fall is here.  In the Midwest US, trees are displaying their beautiful red,
 yellow, and orange colors and the days are sunny and crisp. Autumn is one of
 my favorite seasons of the year.
 
 Autumn is a time of harvest.  This year's harvest has more people choosing
 life by questioning the cultural influences that have driven our behavior. 
 The old story of money and stuff as leading to happiness has lost its appeal.
 Now people are seeing it for what it is, a fabricated story developed by
 advertisers to get you to buy. It also is a story of corporate domination
 and exploitation. Rather than relying on Wall Street, people are now actively
 creating change on Main Street.
 
 I am very happy to see this. It awakens our capacity for cultivating real wealth
 -- healthy children, families, communities, and ecosystems. The need to question  our culture became very clear to me last June when once again I was doing an  investigation as an expert witness. In addition to working with individuals and  families who want to expand and grow, I am sometimes asked to do developmental  investigations for young adults in prison. 
 
 Their developmental histories shows a consistent pattern - troubled childhoods,  family disruption, little community support, gangs, drugs and alcohol, violence,  and crime.  Today, the United States has one of the highest crime rates in the world.  In our current days of mass incarceration, it has been estimated that one out of every 31 US adults in the justice system (Alexander, 2010).  This does not make me happy. The lioness within me began to roar. We have the information needed to do a better  job. While we cannot change the past, we can learn from this information how to create change for the future. I began coordinating information on our strengths.  A book is forthcoming.  Meanwhile, let me give you a few basics.
 
 2. Becoming Resilient
 
 Economist, David Korten recently came out with the new expanded edition of his book,  "Agenda for a New Economy." It is issued as a report for the New Economy Working Group.  In it Korten gives the rationale for the kind of change most likely to be successful.  The most critical change needs to come from the bottom up. When society is organized  by dominator systems, the impetus for change rarely comes from within.  It has to come from the people.
 
 Korten finds that that most successful projects do not come from a large,
 well organized plan.  Instead they come from the dedicated efforts of many people,  each finding the role that best uses his or her gifts and passions. 
 The connections are maintained by the framing ideas and mutually supportive
 relationships. The knowledge comes from the people's heads, that is, our heads,  not from outside experts. The challenge is to recognize, organize, and use it in  effective ways. New ideas gain traction depending on what works and what does not.
 
 3. Key Essentials for Change
 
 Korten believes a successful strategy for change has three key elements. The first  is to identify and question the stories driving our culture.  Exploitive dominator  structures are based on our culture's stories about who we are and the nature of man.  What is the story that the media is giving us?  Is it that we are hedonistic,  dependent, little beasties in need a strong leader?  Research gives a picture that  is quite different.  More and more it is showing that we are wired to care and connect; to create and to do.  We grow and develop in the context of our relationships.   Questioning our cultural stories is critical for change.  It happens as we individually engage in conversations in our neighborhoods, at our meet-ups, in our religious institutions, and in our families. Take time to question and decide what makes sense to you. 
 
 A second critical source of change is in the support we give to the businesses and  activities in our local communities.  You can have a significant impact by supporting your local farmers, shopping locally, and getting involved in initiatives for building  your neighborhoods. 
 
 The third way is to get engaged politically.  Gather information; talk with your
 neighbors, and work to elect leaders that will enact real policy changes. Be sure
 to vote.  All of this activity helps to create the kinds of change that supports life.
 
 4.. Relationships Build Happiness
 
 The good news is that these kinds of changes lead to increased happiness. More and  more research is showing the critical importance of our relationships to our happiness.  Last week a study by Wagner (2010) reported that people who decided to prioritize goals around good relationships and good health were happier, regardless of major  life events.  Those who focused primarily on being able to buy what they wanted or on being successful in their careers reported less happiness. 
 
 In this study, the less people were involved in relationships, the less happy they
 got.  The lesson is, if you want to be happier, consider changing your life goals.
 Concentrate on helping others, your relationships, and family, rather than on
 material possessions as a priority.  People who are active in their churches
 and communities and in social and political activities also report higher levels
 of life satisfaction.  Get involved.  Working to make a difference can give you
 internal rewards: A sense of satisfaction, connection with others, and a feeling
 of aliveness in creating an effect.
 
 5.  Announcements
 
 Upcoming Teleconference - I will be interviewed by Joe High, 4th Quarter Financial Coach, Tuesday, October 12, 2010 9:00-9:30 AM  Phone 218-548-0869, Access code 978836#
 
 Topic:  Put Your Relationships First:  Have a Healthy Financial Discussion with Your Spouse.
 
Warm Regards,

Dr. Alice

 Resources:
 Alexander, M.  (2010) The New Jim Crow.  New York:  The New Press.
 Kasser, T. (2010) Making a Difference Makes You Happy. www.yesmagazine.org
 Korten, D. (2010)  Agenda for a New Economy:  From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth, San Francisco, Ca:  Berrett,-Koehler Publishes, Inc.
 Wagner, Gert (10/4/2010) Happiness Levels Are Not Set in Stone.  www.livescience.com
 

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