You can't always choose what happens to you, but you can choose your response.
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist who found deep purpose in what it meant to be a holocaust survivor, his sage like insight on how certain individuals are better able to rise above adversity (theirs and others) are more relevant than ever. With deep humility, Frankl observed a behavioural trait that can bring solutions to any problem, he wrote "everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way".
Image: Kim Pearce
In essence, Frankl is suggesting that solutions to our problems come from behavioural thoughts rather than actions, and we couldn't agree more. From our work with slum communities in India, we have witnessed that the most peacefully disruptive thing you can do to change your world is to change your thinking. It is powerful to note that our insight does not come from a psychology 101 lecture but from the makers of our slow clothing label, some have experienced the worst human rights abuses on earth but want (and need) us to remember that they are not what happened to them, they are what they choose to think possible.
Image: Kathryn Davis
In deep contrast to what we have seen in the slums, there appears to be an epidemic of victimised thinking in the West, where self-talk (and selfies) demonstrate a belief that others have power over our choices. It's important to recognise that for billions of us, the 'set of circumstances' that we perceive as stopping us from creating the life we desire is mostly in our heads. Never before have the majority of us been better equipped to live freely, so why, as Moby poetically asks 'do so many of us spend our lives doing work that we hate to buy things we don't need'? When Einstein stated 'we will not solve our problems with the same thinking that created them', he too was offering us the opportunity to solve our problems by changing our thinking. The beauty of this approach is that it takes a choice, nothing more, nothing less!
Image: Kim Pearce
As we welcome the New Year many of us will make re-solutions to do something differently. On a deeper level and judging from the uncertain state of global affairs, many of us truly want change but often opt for less than what is possible. It appears that as we set our intentions, we unconsciously fear the outcome, so we get what we think. What if we could reverse Moby's dilemma for example and spend more time loving our work to buy things that are worthwhile? What if we could choose to turn a scarcity mindset into an abundant one, without the need to change anything other than our minds.
Trust me, as a former economist who bought heavily into the scarcity mindset and the myth that all resources, including self, are limited, (excellent fodder for victimisation by the way) we offer you a simple check list of attitudes to help change your thinking. These attitudes are at the core of everything we have created at The Possibility Project. While it was our intention to build something using what we already had, our engagement with slum communities has opened us to so much more.
Image: The Possibility Project
Our ability to create a slow clothing label has come from four simple attitudes demonstrated to us by these slum communities. Read them slowly.
1. Compassion - Anything is possible.
2. Abundance - We already have what we need to create what we want
3. Mastery - Everybody has a gift to offer
4. Purpose - win - wins create magnificent solutions
Image: Kim Pearce
Witness your response to each attitude, resistance is normal! When you 'think' about it, how often do we hear or see this message of possibility? Think of our political systems, our work places, our personal relationships, our food and clothing supply chains (don't even get me started on our classrooms). When are we ever reminded of our 'enoughness'? Problem solving is the essential activity of every being human, yet we have forgotten the simplest ways to create solutions.We have experienced first hand how these attitudes of compassion, abundance, mastery and purpose are freely available choices to every human being and how they can transform problems. These can be your enough starting points for 2017. When you change your thinking you will change your world, we simply wish to offer you some greater possibility.
Love. Kath and Kim.