Yesterday I was talking to Madeleine Forbes about the new paradigm. Madeleine lives in Portugal where she and her family are developing a sustainable life and I interviewed her because she is trying to live differently, by her own rules. I have been interviewing women who are living according to their own values and perspectives for my next book because I want new role models for this stage of my life; inspiration about how to live more by my own inner needs rather than what society thinks I need.
What is the new paradigm?
In my blog in 2016 I argued that that we needed to leave behind the old paradigm of hierarchy, competition and acquisition and replace them with collaboration and co-operation as you can see in the image at the top of the page.
I suggested that instead we needed a new paradigm:
- Instead of competition we need to connect.
- Instead of achievement how about inspiration.
- Rather than status and hierarchy – let’s collaborate.
- Instead of scarcity let’s focus on abundance; there is enough in the world if only we could share.
- Instead of domination let’s support and value each other.
- Rather than needing to be right and best wouldn’t it be lovely if we could be human and use our strengths.
- What if we didn’t need to work so hard because when you use your strengths it is a pleasure?
- If we stopped thinking about success and failure we could focus on learning and feedback.
- If we stopped trying to balance work and life we could create a life which integrates how we are productive with how we live.
- What if we stopped thinking about what is mine and what is yours, could we share?
- Rather than defining success in material and financial terms, we need to think in terms of social, environmental and emotional capital.
- What if how we did something was as important as what we are trying to do?
- What if we stopped defining success externally, but considered happiness, love and peace to be our way of thinking about success.
Now I revisit this, I would also add:
- Replacing ‘more money and material wealth’ with ‘more time and more social, health and environmental wealth’
Why we need a new paradigm
Anyone who reads my blogs regularly will know how concerned I am with the environment and well-being. The two, of course, are connected. The more we get locked into ‘having more’, the longer we have to work, so the less time we have connecting with each other and nature, so the more we lose track of what really matters; people, health and the world which supports us.
If the we are sick or alone, no amount of material wealth is going to make us feel better. If societies continue to sicken we will see crime, and violence continue to rise. If the world is sick; our seas polluted and warming and our forests decimated, then we and the generations who follow us, have no safe home.
Wherever I look in the news I see the old paradigm causing chaos. One only has to look at the Trump administration or the Brexit farce to see the ridiculous mess that competition, ‘us against them’, and ‘we are right’ thinking causes.
If ever there were a time for us to do things differently it is now. And it see it happening.
New paradigm – two women doing it differently
I declared Greta Thunberg my hero for 2019 and now I want to add in another: Jacinda Ardern the prime minister of New Zealand. Her response to the Christchurch attack was both compassionate and strong. She immediately went to the scene of the attack, covered her head and hugged those affected by it. Then within the week, she had banned semi-automatic weapons for New Zealand.
Then this week she has announced that she is de-prioritising economic growth, focusing instead on community, culture and the environment:
New guidance on policy suggests all new spending must advance one of five government priorities: improving mental health, reducing child poverty, addressing the inequalities faced by indigenous Maori and Pacific islands people, thriving in a digital age, and transitioning to a low-emission, sustainable economy.
This from the woman who has changed the laws around domestic abuse as well as the gun laws. She is a woman who has shown she can makes things happen. As has Greta. Yes they can both talk, but more importantly, they are both doing things to make a positive difference.
Then came the news that our government is going to re-focus and make;
Which would make me really happy except that in 2010, Cameron said pretty much the same thing and look how well things have gone since then! Let’s see if this time words translate into tangible change.
The new paradigm I and others are suggesting is about sustainable and health v unsustainable and ill, as simple as that and Greta and Jacinda seem to have got that.
How can I change my paradigm and walk my talk?
But then I need to bring that back home to myself. Writing about this is one thing, but what action can I take to make my bit of different? How can I live more and more according to those values of sustainability, co-operation and collaboration and social and environmental capital?
We re-cycle, we live locally so don’t commute far, we’re not much into buying stuff, we use our own wood for the fires in winter and we are flying less. But we still fly and we still buy things in plastic, there is still room for improvement.
I used to swop childcare for firewood, coaching for massage and I’d like to get back to this a bit more. Handing over money is quick and easy and the tax man likes it. But when we exchange, we are in relationship with someone, building connections and building social capital.
Then there is the time/money conundrum. I feel like I am always adjusting the balance so I have enough money to live and do what the kids and I want to do, but then also, not spending on things we don’t need. I am always re-adjusting work so that I also have time to be in nature and connect with people as well give time to my health and well-being. This adjusting seems to be necessary as the kids grow through their different stages and my energy shifts through the years and seasons.
I’m pulling back from travelling for work and so am offering well-being days, training, yoga and eco-therapy locally, not only to reduce my diesel consumption but to reduce the time spent travelling and to build community capacity and connection. Then there is the wonder of coaching by phone or Skype which allows me to currently be working with two clients in Europe without client or coach needing to use a car! So I feel like this part of my life is on the right track.
And there is still more I feel like there is more I want to shift, which is why I was interviewing Madeleine and why I am interviewing other women living unique lives. I can’t quite see what those shifts are yet, but I am mindful of questions arising:
- What is ‘enough’ money?
- What is ‘enough’ work?
- How can I make life simpler?
- How can we live more sustainability?
- How can I contribute more to my local community?
- What matters to me? What are my priorities and how do I live in line with my values?
- How can we all (in my household) live more healthily and what does that mean for our relationship with screens?
- How can I live differently without alienating myself and the kids from people living more conventionally?
I don’t have the answers, but it feels important to ask the questions. They might be questions you want to play with too and if you have answers about how you do this, let me know, role models gratefully received. Finally, if you are, or know of, a woman who is living differently, then please put us in touch so I can interview them for the book.
I don’t have the power that Jacinda has, nor do I want it, but I do have the power to change how I am in the world and the extent to which my family engages with consumerism and capitalism. As Gandhi said, we have to be the change we want to see in the world and then there is the old proverb, that if you think you are too small to make a difference, look at the impact one mosquito in your room at night can have!
I’m going to end this post in the same way that I ended the 2016 post, with a poem by my much loved Alice Walker because this poem sums up some of what I wish for our new paradigm:
We alone can devalue gold
by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the marketplace.
Wherever there is gold
there is a chain, you know,
and if your chain
so much the worse
and sea-shaped stones
are all as rare.
This could be our revolution:
to love what is plentiful
as much as