Change starts from the inside out
The aspiration for meaning – the quest of a WHY – is the core of humanity. It led humankind to invent and explore the unknown. Personal purpose is the driver that makes individuals move and stand up to face the tide.
Every single individual represents a unique combination of characteristics, skills, resources, and connections. These personal tools give an individual, the ability to accomplish their purpose in an idiosyncratic way. Individuals who have identified and started to pursue their own purpose, activate the power that is inherent to their humanity.
WHY we are in this life influences WHO we become as a person over the course of our existence.
In turn WHO we are as an individual and as a member of society influences how we experience the environment in which we evolve. This impacts how we express ourselves in this environment.
The resulting attitude to and behavior in situations influences WHERE we end up in life.
Our experiences and expressions result in memories which the mind draws from in the future to assess situations; based on these assessments we re-act.
It is a vicious of virtuous cycle that can be influenced systematically. Such influence involves 4 steps:
- Awareness to the interplay of our aspirations, emotions, thoughts and behavior is the first step.
- The second step is to influence this interplay systematically.
- The third step is to use this influence to gradually optimize the interplay, to nurture inner peace, and deriving from it, harmonious relationships with others.
- Identifying and pursuing a purpose, mission in our life, is the fourth and first step on our journey of becoming and sharing our own best self.
The perception that we have of our purpose, the WHY of our existence, influences WHO we are as a person, which influences WHERE we end up in life, which impacts WHAT we do as an individual and as part of a community.
Change is nurtured from the outside in
The experiences that results from the interaction with others influences our image; internally and externally. Internally our experiences either nurture a positive vision of ourselves and of the environment or they hamper it. Externally our experiences influence whether others perceive us positively or negatively. This mixed image impact, either helps or hinders us in the pursuit of our purpose; the answer to our WHY.
The outside-in change dynamic works in smaller and larger ways
Body posture impacts our physical, mental, and emotional status. It influences our mood, memory, behavior, and stress levels. It not only eases the symptoms of depression but lessens self-focus. Physiologically speaking, a physical pose that reflects an attitude of power – upright, square shoulders, and head up, sends a signal to the brain; a neural impulse which turns into an actual, physiological response that boosts brainpower. Furthermore, posture affects hormone levels—decreasing cortisol and increasing testosterone, the latter being associated with self-confidence. On the other hand, our actions impact our experiences and memories which eventually reshapes our mindset; both metaphorically and practically speaking.
Action can precede attitude. Priming new habits can begin with actions that are performed consciously, even if the underlying motivation is not intuitive. Gradually, the resulting experiences will result in new habit patterns in the mind. Especially in times of transition and uncertainty, thinking, and introspection may follow physical experimentation – not only vice versa. As these unaccustomed behaviors are performed repeatedly, they induce changes in the physical brain circuitry thanks to neuroplasticity (Doidge, 2007), this makes them ever more permanent until they feel ‘normal’. The best way to become part of social change is to be proactive, plunging into new projects and activities, interacting with very different kinds of people, and experimenting with unfamiliar ways of getting things done.
The mind triggers our re-actions in any new situation based on old experiences. It is an evolutionary set-up to re-act quickly by establishing shortcuts (heuristics) which are prone to errors (bias). Understanding the sub-conscious connection between our mental storage from the past, and our urges in a present-day situation enables us to be vigilant.
Once we are aware of our tendency to re-act (too) quickly, we can: 1) choose to put inner space between the external trigger and our re-action to it: 2) use this buffer-zone to consciously choose our action based on our best knowledge at the time, in line with our overall aspirations; rather than re-acting blindly to an external trigger.
The journey of Life is about becoming our own best self, and to share this self with others. Once the four dimensions of our individual being are synchronized, the connection between us (individual) and others ensues gradually, naturally. Such internal and external connection is conducive to both individual and collective harmony and wellbeing. Individuals who behave in line with the values that they believe in nurture a positive self-image. The latter is central to finding harmony inside, and such internal harmonization conditions social synchronization.
Social norms are the unwritten rules of behavior that are considered acceptable in a group or society. They result from the interplay between beliefs and behavior, between individuals and larger communities. In the same way that poverty and violence are condoned in some parts of the world today, preventing and palliating these issues can become a new social norm tomorrow.