We want to live in a society that benefits people and the planet.
Far too many of us feel boxed in, and the symptoms are many – unfulfilled by work, stressed by our fragmented lives, or anxious about our environment. Things must change. We can’t keep doing the same things over and over again and expecting better outcomes.
We must create a new story by shedding old beliefs and stepping into a new mindset, reclaim our power to act with purpose, and recognize our interdependence.
These six personal declarations will help you rewrite your story.
DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE
Seek Freedom & Dignity
I was born free. I am reclaiming my autonomy, taking back control from the systems that deny my dignity.
Every living thing wants to be free. That includes people.
We live in a society, and that means following its norms and accepting the beliefs. Unfortunately, these beliefs often end up constraining us, and we start to sense frustration and the realization that we are not being treated as we should be.
Because of these beliefs, we are too quick to blame our employer, boss, or team. But, they are not the root of the problem. Our beliefs about work and how they have caused us to structure organizations is the problem.
It is up to each of us to stand up and seek freedom and dignity from these beliefs and the structures for ourselves. No one is going to do it for us. The system will only change when we seek to bring it about.
HOW TO SEEK FREEDOM & DIGNITY
- Don’t ignore your feelings, they are your guideposts – read the signs.
- Feeling stuck, ignored, and taken advantage of are signs you need more autonomy.
- Feeling disrespected, disregarded, and ridiculed are signs you need more recognition.
- Connect with these feelings and ask yourself why you are feeling them.
- You are the one who can change your situation, find the people and places that give you what you need.
FIND MEANING & BELONGING
I am reconnecting with what brings meaning and belonging to my life. I demand the best of what I do and with whom I do it.
People are both meaning-making and social beings.
We only want to do what has meaning to us. We can do anything physically possible when something has sufficient meaning to us. People have killed, died, and everything in between because something is meaningful to them. However, when we have to do things that have little meaning, we are not motivated to do them. We end up going through the motions and suffering for it.
The worst thing that can be done to us is being ostracised by our community. Even on death row, the ultimate punishment is solitary confinement. As social beings, we seek to build relationships with those that share our beliefs and values. Unfortunately, too often, we are forced into situations where we don’t feel we belong, and this can also cause us a lot of suffering.
When we and our social systems don’t take into account these most fundamental intrinsic needs. We’re treated like pawns and moved around within systems such as education and employment, with little regard for what has meaning to us and who we share connections with.
HOW TO FIND MEANING & BELONGING
- Again, don’t ignore your feelings, they are your guideposts.
- Feeling bored, disinterested, and disengaged are signs you lack meaning in what you’re doing.
- Feeling disconnected, left-out, and anxious are signs you lack a sense of belonging.
- Connect with these feelings and ask yourself why you are feeling them.
- These are key motivations. You will need to connect with the things and people that give you meaning a belonging.
SATISFY OUR HUMAN NEEDS
I am more at peace, engaged, and fulfilled by attending to my intrinsic needs – helping me be of greater service to others.
People are driven by the needs of our motivational systems.
We are born with numerous intrinsic needs. We are most familiar with our biological needs, such as our need for food and warmth. We tend to be less familiar with our psychological needs. Meaning and belonging are the most fundamental of them, but there are many more.
The need for safety, for example, is a crucial part of our make up. We often hear that safety is the most fundamental need. In fact, meaning or belonging cause people to do things that jeopardize their safety all the time. Think of extreme sports or joining a gang, both are highly risky, and yet people are motivated to do them.
Our social systems are designed to account for our physical needs by providing things like breaks and ergonomic work-spaces. But there is little recognition of our psychological needs. Classrooms and offices are good examples of places where our psychological needs are mostly ignored. By ignoring needs such as safety, autonomy, and play can make people feel very insecure, stressed, and full of pent-up energy. Many of the symptoms we observe in those environments are caused by the structures rather than the individuals.
HOW TO SATISFY OUR HUMAN NEEDS
- Your needs generate feelings, they are your guideposts – ignore them at your own peril.
- Learn more about your motivations and the needs behind them.
- Being able to see why you are feeling a certain way can help you address the situation.
- Don’t assume your feelings are right or wrong.
- It takes time to learn about your needs and the feelings they generate, but it can bring you great satisfaction.
ACT KNOWING NATURE IS LIFE
Nature is our source and greatest teacher.
I act responsibly knowing that the wholeness of life is interdependent and nested within nature.
People are a part of life, and nature is the whole of life.
We think of nature as something outside of ourselves, when, in reality, we too are nature. Life is an interdependent set of systems that mesh together to create our world. Everything is fully connected. The atoms that make up one thing today will make up another tomorrow.
Too often, we think of nature simply as raw materials, resources to be used for our needs. This way of thinking fails to consider the direct impact on the whole of the earth. Nature is a balancing act between every single animal, plant, water, air, and so on. We must come to think in a way that makes that reality evident and crucial to how we act.
It is one thing to be worried about climate change or environmental degradation, but it’s another altogether to change how we see nature. Fixing the imbalance that has been caused to the earth is critical. However, we will only keep putting things out of balance if we fail to see that our actions have the ability to create a global imbalance.
HOW TO ACT KNOWING NATURE IS LIFE
- Start seeing nature as an extension of your life.
- Learn to see how everything is nested in some system, which is ultimately nested in nature.
- Use this knowledge to make decisions and advise others.
- Don’t ignore these realities. These are our lives we are dealing with.
- The economic system is the biggest culprit, start influencing how it impacts nature.
Nature is everywhere — we just need to learn to see it | Emma Marris
COLLABORATE WITH RESPECT
I work with others with awareness, transparency, understanding, and responsibility, maximizing our potential and unleashing our collective intelligence.
It is collaboration that sets us apart from other animals.
As social beings, we are driven to collaborate, it’s in our nature. Our society focuses on our individuality, causing us to cherish it over our commonality. This has become embedded in our systems of education and work.
We have learned to collaborate only as a way to accomplish things we would not do ourselves. We learned to work together to make something and then break up again. Most of the time, we feel and are treated as individuals and not as a collective. We’ve learned to draw a hard line between ourselves and the groups we belong to.
Collaborating is not merely a means to an end. Human collaboration is an essential part of our nature. We once again see that we are better together, that we can be healthier, safer, happier, and more fulfilled by living a collaborative life. Work is but one example of collaborating, we collaborate in our families, schools, and communities.
How we see and treat collaboration will change how we collaborate. We have learned to see it as something we do by necessity. In reality, it is the act of working together that makes us better people and allows us to make better contributions to the world.
HOW TO COLLABORATE WITH RESPECT
- Look at collaboration as the best way to make an impact.
- Allow yourself and others to be autonomous and treat each other with respect.
- Work to build a shared sense of meaning and belonging for everyone involved.
- Establish share beliefs and strive to validate them regularly.
- Share wins and losses, the key to collaboration is being open with one another.
CREATE A COLLECTIVE IMPACT
I was born to live with purpose and make a truly positive impact on the world. My greatest impact comes from my joint efforts with others.
People were born to create an impact.
From a young age, we seek to change the world around us. We want to make it different. It starts off simply enough. We want to make noise and throw stuff. Soon that’s not enough, noise becomes singing, and throwing becomes playing. For some of us, play becomes a sport that we want to excel at.
Creating an impact is somehow lost in our social dialogue. There’s lots of talk about work, finding a job, and making money, but rarely does that conversation get to how we seek to make an impact. Society has created these boxes for us. We get caught up in them without even knowing what we are missing.
Some people are lucky to be making the type of impact that they wish to make. But, in today’s world, they are an anomaly. For the most part, people see themselves as pawns in the chess game that is our society.
We need to move our thinking away from that chess game and towards what we know needs to be done. There is so much need in the world, and only we can make the change we want to see.
HOW TO CREATE A COLLECTIVE IMPACT
- Look for what excites you or what makes you angry – they have meaning to you.
- Ask yourself how you might be able to contribute to those areas.
- Explore those areas. Don’t make assumptions about your ability – let your passion drive you.
- Connect with others who share your passions, ask how you can help.
- Creating an impact is about evolving how we live, each little step counts, so don’t stop trying.
Want to change the world? Start by being brave enough to care | Cleo Wade